Thursday, February 11, 2021

Year of Ox

Hooray -- Ox is being celebrated!

On Friday, February twelfth, Chinese New Year begins -- a celebration of the characteristics of Ox for a whole year -- diligence, honesty, hard-working.

There are lots and lots of stories, traditions, and rituals for this two-week-long lunar holiday. I'm not ethnically Chinese -- I won't pretend to offer a full understanding of the celebration. But, I can't help a little celebration -- because of my friend, OX!

I've learned that spring couplets, Chunlian, are popular decorations at doorposts to scare away evil. 


As spring light and warmth increase
so hearts with a wealth of joy, and peace

(c) Linda Mitchell

I didn't make the full two scrolls...just the window decoration in the upper right picture. I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole looking for Chinese poetry forms and learned that some Chinese Poetry in the Tang Dynasty was modeled after Japanese haiku. But, there is a difference between syllable counting and character writing...things got a bit fuzzy for me after that. 

I moved on to a short description of how the Chinese Ox came to earth and found haiku syllable line count within it. The orange lines are 5 syllables and the blue lines are 7. The basic story hijinks are preserved.

according to myth
plow oxen lived in Heaven
the message mixed-up

oxen to the earth
working the farms helping
people with farm work

All in all, Ox and I are having a blast with poetry this year. We've still got many adventures ahead. Wish us luck!

Hamish and Hector have a new friend, Niu, on the padlet. They'd love for you to visit. 

Visit Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone for lots more poetry and a rest from the official busy-ness of our week. 

Xin Nian Kuai Le
(Happy New Year)

Do you know an Ox? I'd love a pic of an Ox that you can get in person. I have a seemingly unlimited number of images of Ox and Oxen on the internet. But, I would love a pic from my poetry friends of an ox they meet in real life to use as a poetry prompt. If you have one or get one before next year, let me know!

A girl taking a photograph with a Kodak box Brownie camera (circa 1935). (Photo by Keystone View Company/Archive Photos/Getty Images)


  1. The fun thing about your post is the enthusiasm of everyone who celebrates, like those hanging decorations and the precious last line of your Chulian. Happy Valentine's Day, Linda

  2. Wow, I learned so much in this post! The world could use more of those ox-like virtues. And your window decoration is amazing! I love all your ox poems and am looking forward to reading them all year. <3 Happy New Year!

  3. WHo knew oxen were so wonderful? You did, of course. Love your post!

  4. Your adventures with Ox astound me. I want to try doing Chulian with my students next week. Love your door decoration. Thanks for this wealth of a post.

  5. Another great post and continuation of the wonder that is Ox! I'm so glad I get to come along on this journey! Thanks for all the fascinating tidbits!

  6. Loved learning more about the fabulous Ox (and what a beautiful door sign!). Thanks for a delightful Lunar New Year's post. :)

  7. I've never seen an ox, not even at our State Fair. So sorry I can't send a picture. I loved the story of how they got to earth with the intrigue with getting the message wrong. Is that why people think they still need three meals a day?

  8. Linda, you have been most enterprising in extracting these haiku poems from the broader text. wishing you every success with your ox quest. I can only ad some words I heard a football coach once utter- 'The Earth is slow, but the ox is patient.'

  9. I have no oxen that I've met in my neighborhood, but if you're ever interested in sheep or cows....

    Thanks for sharing what you learned down your rabbit holes surrounding the Chinese New Year and the Ox.

  10. Ok, now I know why my comments disappear. It happens when I click on your links so now for the third time I will respond (truthfully the rabbit hole I am entering is a wonderfilled space of creativity). Your padlet shares Hello Niu 牛 that I find appealing. Using characters broadens your scope and adds a realistic touch to your oxen storyline. I sent you this morning, Chinese New Year images that have been sent to me via Twitter. Keep on with your ox tales.

  11. Happy Chinese New Year, Linda! I am fascinated by your journey with Ox; delighted to be carried along for the unveiled learnings. The story of Ox's arrival on Earth is new to me. Like the language and the poetic forms, even the story is full of intricacies. Good thing for us Ox misunderstood, although it led to a life of servitude. If I come across Ox - or, if Ox comes across me - I will surely direct your way.

  12. Your spring Chulian is speaking to me. This has been a snowy, dreary week. I'm looking forward to the joy and peace of spring gardens.

  13. Linda, how fascinating your post is. I enjoyed your links and poems on your Padlet that I have missed. Jan Brett's books and illustrations are amazing! Remember how she would frame some of her spreads with additional art? My children and I always loved enjoyed the details of her borders. I love the idea of a chulian; your words and art are beautiful! I find the letters and words of Chinese and Japanese are like beautiful works of art. It is interesting Chinese poetry was modeled after haiku. I heard that before, but I don't remember where.
    I went on an adventure and hopefully found you some websites on oxen that you didn't find.

    Highland cattle are my favorite bovine and musk ox are a truly amazing animal even though they're not a true ox.

  14. Linda here are some more websites that have farms of oxen. The first farm they train oxen and you can stay there! They have a sleigh that oxen pull! I just looked up oxen in Vermont and New Hampshire. My oldest daughter went to UVM so that's why I thought of Vermont. Have fun.

    1. WOW! Thanks for the boon of links. Look out, rabbit hole, here I come!

  15. Happy New Year, Linda! Your journey with Ox is inspiring. Every week I learn more. (I am still looking for an opportunity to meet a real life Swiss ox...when I've met him/her, I send the pic to you!)

  16. I love your window scroll decoration, and Chunlian poem couplet Linda. And the whole idea that the scrolls scare away evil–and the story of the ox entitling all to three meals a day–sounds good to me. Poor ox now stuck here with us earthlings… Thanks for your colorful and rich post!

  17. Thanks for sharing all your research. I'm feeling guilty about not mentioning the Lunar New Year in PreK--but they barely have a grip on yesterday and tomorrow, and we have so little time...
    Unfortunately I do not know any oxen, but should I come across one, I will definitely get out my Brownie camera and snap you a pic!


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!