February 14th was a special day this year: there was a full moon.
Across Western countries, the fourteenth was Valentine’s Day, that most romantic celebration of love, or most cynical expression of consumerism, depending on your perspective. In North America, the full moon was the “Snow Moon”, named for the heavy snowfalls February usually brings.
In Theravada Buddhist countries, the February full moon signals the holy day of Makha Bucha (Māgha Pūjā), the anniversary of the day when the recently-enlightened Buddha was spontaneously visited by 1,250 disciples.
And, in any country with a significant population of Chinese heritage, this full moon marked the last day of the 15-day celebration of the Lunar New Year: bidding farewell to the Year of the Snake, and welcoming the Year of the Horse.
Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival is a BIG deal. In China, many offices close for a full week or more as families travel to get together to celebrate. In Singapore, where we happened to be this year (for the Singapore Airshow), Chinatown was ablaze with lights and colours, and the restaurants were full. Internally-lit giant pink horses pranced and galloped down the central boulevard of the main street. Golden coins floated overhead, and lucky dragons with their accompanying drummers were never far from view.
Even the Singapore gardens got in on the Lunar New Year festivities.
It was the wooden horse sculpture on the posters for the Gardens by the Bay that drew me out to explore this relatively new complex. The 101 hectare (1,010,000 m2) redevelopment garden-park consists of three waterfront gardens and a conservatory complex; well beyond what I could manage on a sticky-humid Valentine’s Day.
I settled for a visit to the two cooled conservatories: the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.
According to one horoscope:
An excellent year for travel? Off the beaten path?
I’m all for it!
Happy Year of the Horse.