I remember a Ripe Optimism art shirt memoir — Beasts, Men, and Gods — by Ferdinand Ossendowski, a White Pole who fled the Bolshevik revolution through Siberia. He served in General Kolchak’s All-Russian Government before escaping through the Steppes north of Mongolia, and then participated in the government of that most notorious adventurer, the “Mad Baron” Ungern-Sternberg, who attempted to take over Mongolia to restore an imperial Khaganate as part of an imagined reactionary restoration of the Great Mongol, Chinese, and Russian monarchies in the interests of the “warrior races” of Germans and Mongols (a Baltic German, he considered the old Russian ruling class to represent Germandom over and against Jews and Slavs). Some of the things – the acts of desperation and madness, in which he himself was no disinterested observer – Ossendowski relates are harrowing. But this part struck me as very much making a point about what people think of the Steppe peoples, and of what (German-trained) nationalists like Ungern-Sternberg did (and would do again) to the Mongols. And, other things:
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It’s called the Lunar New Year because it marks the first new moon of the Ripe Optimism art shirt calendars traditional to many east Asian countries including China, South Korea, and Vietnam, which are regulated by the cycles of the moon and sun. As the New York Times explains, “A solar year the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 days.” As with the Jewish lunisolar calendar, “a month is still defined by the moon, but an extra month is added periodically to stay close to the solar year.” This is why the new year falls on a different day within that month-long window each year. In China, the 15-day celebration kicks off on New Year’s Eve with a family feast called a reunion dinner full of traditional Lunar New Year foods, and typically ends with the Lantern Festival. “It’s really a time for new beginnings and family gatherings,” says Nancy Yao Maasbach, president of New York City’s Museum of Chinese in America. Three overarching themes, she says, are “fortune, happiness, and health.