A quick guide to the Year of the Rat

PHOTO: Why is this the Year of the Rat?

It’s the biggest annual celebration of all and sparks off a yearly exodus from the cities of China as families head home, or in many case to travel to other provinces or overseas during the two week festival.

25% of the 7.7 billion world population will Chinese New Year from today. The holiday is also called Lunar New Year and spring festival. People of Chinese heritage take a break and reunite with family and friends.

But why is Chinese New Year at different times each year? Like Easter in the Christian calendar, Chinese New Year is based on the phases of the moon. It begins with the New Moon, so this year it starts on January 25. The festival lasts for two weeks and ends with a lantern festival on the date of the next full moon–February 9, 2020.

The Moon’s determining of Chinese New Year means you have to be mindful if you’re born in January or February when wondering what your Chinese birth year’s sign is.

What’s so special about the Year of the Rat?

It’s actually a “Gold Rat” or “Metal Rat” year. If you are born in the Year of the Rat, you are said to be quick-witted, resourceful, versatile and kind by Chinese astrologers. You are also driven to create order.

Known as ‘Sheng Xiao’, the Chinese Zodiac has a 12 year cycle, and every year has a different animal sign. Each 12 year cycle starts with a year of the Rat. But added to that are also five elements that are added to the animals – wood, fire, earth, gold (metal) and water. So it’s actually a 60 year cycle. First come Wood Rats, then Fire Rats, Earth Rats, Gold (Metal) Rats and Water Rats. In Chinese astrology each kind of rat, for example, is given different fates and characteristics based on their nature signs.

The 12 signs in Chinese astrology were derived from myths circulating during the times of the Jade Emperor in China. He developed a calendar in the sixth century BC. All the animals in the world were summoned to race against each other. The first 12 animals to cross the line would be awarded signs in the Chinese zodiac.

In the Chinese zodiac, it’s your birth year, birth month, birth day, and birth hour that’s astrologers take into account, not what month you were born in. The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit/Cat, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig won the prize (must have been a very fast snake!)

So Chinese astrologers study calendars and animal traits, while Western astrologers are more interested in imaginary celestial alignments of constellations, along with the planets, stars and moon.

So what are the next 12 years of animals in the Chinese zodiac?

Rat – 2020
Ox – 2021
Tiger – 2022
Rabbit/Cat – 2023
Dragon – 2024
Snake – 2025
Horse – 2026
Goat – 2027
Monkey – 2028
Rooster – 2029
Dog – 2030
Pig – 2031

A quick guide to the Year of the Rat | News by Thaiger

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