It’s a bright new year full of opportunity and surprises! A chance to start a new and make this year the best it can be. Everywhere around the world, people are welcoming the new year with festivities and cheer, including China.
As most people may know, China has a zodiac animal for the years and this year is the Year of the Rat, but what does that actually mean? What do these animals represent and where did it even come from?
Let’s start with the basics, there are a total of twelve Chinese Zodiac Animals, including: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and the Pig.These animals are in a cycle that goes over the course of twelve years.
Much like our zodiac symbols, these signs tell people who they are compatible with, their personality traits and elements. However, the Chinese Zodiac Animals go into more detail with their signs, talking about one’s celestial stem and their earthly branch.
The celestial stem represents the ten days of the week in China and the earthly branch represent the hours that are related to the animals. They believe that this is when the animals are most active which means these people are most active in that time frame.
For example, the Rat’s hours are from eleven at night to one in the morning and their day is wu ̀, so that is when they are most active. They also have more elements on their wheel than we do: metal, earth, fire, water and wood. These elements also may tell a person more into detail about their animal and their personality.
Now, where did this all come from? According to the scientists who study the zodiac calendar, it was created back in the Qin Dynasty, which was more than two-thousand years ago.
As one legend goes, a Jade Emperor needed to choose twelve animals as palace guard. Cat asked his neighbor, Rat, to help him sign up, but Rat forgot. This made Cat and Rat mortal enemies. At the palace, Ox was first in line for signing up, but Rat climbed onto Ox’s back and jumped right in front of him.
Both Tiger and Dragon thought that this was unfair, but they settled behind Ox. Rabbit also found this unfair and wanted to race Dragon for the next spot and won.
This made Dog angry, he then bit Rabbit in a fit and was sent to the back of the line as punishment. Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, and Rooster fought amongst themselves as well for their place in line.
Pig arrived late, after everything finally settled down, and could only take last in line. Of course, we know that this isn’t an accurate story for cats did not even exist int eh time the Zodiac calendar was created.
It also made to be very clear that just because it is someone’s year, it doesn’t mean they have good luck. People in China actually believe that it represents bad luck and misfortune. They even believe that one must wear red clothing every day of that year to ward off evil spirits. So, watch out for the dangers of the Rat.
Now that a basics have been covered, it’s time to discuss the animals themselves. Let’s start with the Rat. The Rat tends to be optimistic and energetic; they are normally liked by everyone they meet. Rats have a strong sense of empathy, but our stubborn when it comes to their beliefs.
However, the Rat does have poor communication skills, so what they say may come out as rude. Next up is the Ox, who tend to be honest and very modest. Ox tend to be great leaders and very logical.
Third, is Tiger, they tend to be hard to control, but they are very kind and never give up on what they are passionate on. Fourth, are Rabbits, they have quiet personalities, but they also have confidence and are very passionate for their goals.
Next, are Dragons, who are strong and independent, but yearn for someone to love and support them. As for the Snakes, they have deep and complex minds, but if they love something, they love it with all their hearts.
Horses, however, are seen as independent and free spirited. Goats, like Rabbits, are loving and selfless, they love helping people, even if it is against their own beliefs. Monkeys are pranksters and will do anything to go after their dreams.
Rooster are a pleasant mix of Dragons and Snakes, while they have complex minds, but they also need people to love them for who they are. Dogs are loving and loyal, they tend to be true friends. As for the Pig, they have beautiful personalities and are blessed with good fortune.
To wrap all of this up, everyone has their own way of celebrating the New Year. Their own special traditions and their own belief on what the New Year means.
China has similar ideas to us, but they do celebrate in their own way. So, go ahead and look it all up, maybe this year is gonna be great, or not, that is all up to the fate of the Zodiac. Happy Year of the Rat!