It's The Year of the Rat, and to celebrate (in addition to that Queer Kiss photo above - I'm so PROUD of those women - I don't know if I would be that brave!), here are three intellectual fireworks for you to enjoy:
Mythology behind the Holiday (from wikipedia):
According to legend, in ancient China, the Nián (年) was a man-eating beast from the mountains (in other versions from under the sea), which came out every 12 months somewhere close to winter to prey on humans. The people later believed that the Nian was sensitive to loud noises and the colour red, so they scared it away with explosions, fireworks and the liberal use of the colour red. These customs led to the first New Year celebrations. Guò nián (simplified Chinese: 过年; traditional Chinese: 過年), which means to celebrate the new year, literally means the passover of the Nian.I didn't know that - and that's really cool, an explanation of the use of the color red and the loud fireworks!
Here's the next flower of light, to delight: There was a play about lesbian love, written and performed in China in the 1600s!
Li Yu's play, Lian xiang ban or "Pitying the Fragrant Companion." It is a story about two women (one of them married) who love each other so much that they perform a wedding ceremony for themselves. The married woman conspires successfully to have her husband accept her lover as a concubine and the two women live together happily ever after. That the play later became closely identified with the lesbian experience is unmistakable; for example, in the autobiographical work on Shen Fu (1763-?) Six Chapters of a Floating Life, we find him teasing his wife about her infatuation with a singsong girl, "Are you trying to imitate Li-weng's 'Pitying the Fragrant Companion'?"
And the third fabulous celebration of Chinese Gay Soul this New Years is:
From the Chronicles, too, we know about the affection between Duke Ling of Wei and his minister, Ni Xia. Once, when the two men were taking a stroll in an orchard, Ni picked a peach off one of the trees and took a bite off it. The fruit was so delicious that he offered the rest of it to the duke; a common euphemism for male homosexual love, fen tao zhi ai (literally, "the love of the shared peach"), is derived from this account.
Juicy, isn't it?
Here's hoping YOUR Chinese New Year Celebration is as Brave, Peachy, Fragrant, Dressed in Red and LOUD!
quote #2 is from pg. 85 of the essay "Homosexuality and the State in Late Imperial China" by Viven W. Ng, as in "Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past" edited by Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr. quote #3 is from pg. 77 of the same essay.