Lucky Toads

A few nights ago, Leah and I went toad hunting and it made me think of the symbolism of toads in China :-) “Jin Chan” or “Chan Chu,” usually called “Money frog” or “Money toad” in English, is a figurine used in Feng Shui to attract money. It has three legs, usually red eyes (which makes it kind of evil looking!), always holds an ancient Chinese coin in its mouth, and usually sits on a pile of coins. Although you can only see six beads on its back, there are seven, and they represent the Big Dipper. You can have up to nine lucky toads in your home, and as with most things in Feng Shui, the placement of where you put them is VERY important! Placed just inside your main door is good, but… facing inwards, so the money comes “in,” never facing the door as the money will go out! And it should not be placed in a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or dining room. The legend behind Chan Chu is that a wife of one of the Chinese eight immortals was caught stealing the immortal elixir, and as punishment was turned into a toad by the gods. The picture shows a live toad we saw the other night and also a Chan Chu from a tea shop just outside the Walmart entrance.

Life in China: A Picture A Day, March 20, 2016

The cat of many names!: Originally from Japan, and called Maneki-neko, which means “Beckoning Cat,” in English most commonly known as “Lucky Cat,” and in Chinese “Zhao cai mao 招财猫 ” or “Welcoming Wealth Cat.” Westerners often think the cat is waving, but it represents the Japanese way of beckoning. The lucky cat dates back to the 1800’s in Japan, is known around the world, and is extremely popular in modern China. It is often found in businesses as it is believed it will bring good luck and wealth. Having right, left, or both paws raised, and also what it is wearing or holding, can all have special meanings. The most common is to have the left paw raised (often battery powered to move up and down) and wearing a red collar with a gold bell. There are many folktales about the cat, as well as numerous modern day characters depicted from Maneki-neko. Traditionally, the coloring represented a tri-color calico Japanese bobtail cat, but today it can be found in many colors, especially white, gold, red and black. There are entire stores for selling them, and they show up in all kinds of places! These pictures show the Lucky Cat at a local restaurant we like to eat at, some meat floss snack cakes at the local grocery store, a lucky cat shop from the Spring Festival flower market, and a mug with a lid for sale at a local store.

God of Wealth

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 12 - Today is the 5th day of the Chinese New Year and the day considered to be the birthday of the God of Wealth. In many places, the day is welcomed in with abundant fireworks to honor and please this God. He is seen frequently in Chinese New Year decorations, often with coins or yuanbao. Many people will also eat dumplings called jiaozi today because they are shaped like yuanbao. (check picture from Jan. 21)

Goldfish

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 9 - If you’ve read what I’ve previously shared about gold and fish… I’m sure you'll understand why goldfish are considered to be “lucky fish!” What better activity for kids (and adults!) at a New Year’s celebration than fishing for goldfish! There is a food fair, with some carnival type games, at our nearby shopping plaza and this “fish pond” is set up there. I’ve seen fishing like this at quite a few other places throughout the year, but in much smaller pools!

Fish Decorations and as Food

Life in China: A Picture a Day 2016, Feb 7 - One of the most popular sayings for Chinese New Year is “Nian nian you yu 年年有余” The basic meaning of this is “May you have abundance through every year.” The word for abundance, surplus, or plenty, is “yu.” This sounds the same as the word “yu ” which means fish, so, you can see why fish are such popular decorations during Spring Festival! Today is New Year’s Eve in China and families will gather for their “reunion dinners.” A very important dish to serve is fish, usually served whole as a symbol of prosperity, with the head and tail representing the beginning and ending of the year. A portion of the fish is saved for finishing in the new year, indicating that there is “surplus” for the New Year!