HAPPY NEW YEAR! The traditional Chinese phrase: 恭禧發財 (also superimposed in photo of the decorated tree above) is the broad-brushed symbol for this sentiment. The Lunar New Year is regarded as the most important cultural holiday among Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian nations. This year is the Year of the Tiger, which symbolizes strength. Personally, it is the to honor Luci, my beautiful Calico cat, who is a tiger in her own right. She has shown the strength to stay with me much longer than she should giving me 16 "Luci years" (all with her certain prosperity of luck, strength and beauty). I'm glad she's still with me now, but the new year will show me the strength to let her go to run with the gods.
THE NEW MOON changes are tracked by the lunisolar Chinese calendar (which consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems). The Chinese New Year celebration can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. This year, the 14th of February (Valentine's day) kicked off the beginning of the lunar calendar or Lunar New Year. This new beginning is the culmination of 15 days of spring festivals celebrating the event in China.
THE TREE I designed to celebrate the Year of the Tiger is inspired by the many rich traditions of the holiday. I wanted it to be a simple and elegant representation of only a few of the many and varied elements of this richly symbolic holiday. Using only mercury glass lantern ornaments in a sophisticated pallet of reds, golds and greens (from this past holiday season's Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's) hung from red cotton cords on simple natural branch forced into flower, I'm representing a time of renewal, rebirth and a precious celebration of life (honoring Luci along with the Lunar New Year).
WELL WISHES for good luck, happiness and prosperity are the main sentiments embodied by the Chinese New Year traditions. But they are not the only ones. The celebrations are also centered around reconciliation and forgetting grudges. A clean sweep, if you will. This new year interpretation of a decorated tree is my way of relating this and more to all of the people (and little tigers) that bring the light of many multi-colored lanterns into my life. They give me the strength to recognize life's worth as clearly and as strongly as possible, seeing through the fog of uncertainty.
LANTERN FESTIVITY | (Top and middle) This "forced" tree branch is made quite elegant with the addition of mercury glass lantern ornaments from the Martha Stewart Collection 2009 at Macy's. The traditional paper lanterns used on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year for the Lantern Festival, are bright, colorful, and in many different shapes and sizes. The container holding the branch is an antique stoneware vase from a friend's private collection. The green spider mum symbolizing longevity (within a glass globe from Bungalow I bought a few years back, above, left) and in a vase by Victoria Hagen for Target (top), kumquats and oranges symbolizing prosperity and red envelopes (a custom explained above) are all a part of the varied traditions surrounding the holiday.
©2010 DARRYL MOLAND | ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, collecting and styling by Darryl Moland, tree photographed by Harold Daniels Studio / assisted by Shawn May