During the Chinese New Year of Sheep, we often see the Chinese painting or writing about three goats or sheep. The title is San-Yang-Kai-Tai , which means "Three Goats Start Peace with Fortune". The meaning behind this is from Chinese Stem-Branch calendar and the Book of Changes (I-Ching).
The formal writing of San-Yang-Kai-Tai is . is three. is Yang, which is the Yang of Yin-Yang. Kai is to start. Tai is the name of an I-Ching Hexagram. means peace. is also connected to Tiger month (February), which is the first month in the Chinese calendar. Chinese Goat is a homophone for Yang . Chinese replace by , and it becomes , which becomes a famous and popular phase of "An Auspicious Start to the New Year".
I-Ching is a Chinese Yin Yang philosophy. It states the natural phenomena of our universe, then applies it on people relationships in the family, organization, government and the nation. The nature rule of the universe (Dao) is Yin and Yang.
I-Ching uses the symbol of broken bar as Yin and the solid bar as Yang. Yin is female, cold, earth or down. Yang is male, hot, sky or up. In the morning, sky is hot and ground is still cold. The Little Yang is assigned during this time. At noon, sky and ground are hot, which is Big Yang . In the evening, sky is cold and ground is still hot, which is Little Yin . At night, both sky and ground are cold, which is is Big Yin. Human live between sky and ground. By adding a human layer with Yin and Yang on those four symbols, they become Eight Trigrams (Ba Kua), which are Sky, Lake, Fire, Thunder, Wind, Water, Mountain, Earth. That's natural phenomena in human's eyes. Combining two trigrams together, they become I Ching 64 Hexagrams.
One hexagram has 6 bars. When applying Yin and Yang on them, we have 12 hexagrams standing for 12 months. The first Yang (red bar) grows from the ground in December. January has two Yang on the ground. February has three Yang on the ground. Full six Yang is in May. The first Yin grows in June. Full Yin is in the November.
Month Hexagrams Yin and Yang Month Name December 1 Yang Rat January 2 Yang Cow February 3 Yang Tiger March 4 Yang Rabbit April 5 Yang Dragon May Full Yang Snake June 1 Yin Horse July 2 Yin Sheep August 3 Yin Monkey September 4 Yin Chicken October 5 Yin Dog November Full Yin Pig
The hexagrams combines Earth on the top and Sky in the ground. The name of is Tai. The time is the Tiger Month, which starts around on February 4 each year. Chinese Lunar New Year usually is near on the first day of Tiger month. three also imply "a large number". means lots of Yang energy bring up auspicious, cordial and tranquil atmosphere in new year.