Chinese New Year

Xin Nian Kuai Le (“New Year Happy”)! Last weekend marked the start of celebrations for Chinese New Year, and the beginning of the Year of the Rat! 

Could this mean an auspicious year for you?

Each year brings a new animal from the Chinese Zodiac. Altogether there are 12 different animals: the first is the Rat, which means 2020 is the start of a brand new Zodiac cycle; then comes the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster and Dog before finally landing on the Pig.

But, where do these 12 animals originate from?

Long ago, according to legend, Buddha invited all the animals in the kingdom to a grand race. Only 12 of them bothered to show up, so to thank them for their efforts, Buddha rewarded them by naming each year of the Chinese Zodiac Calendar after them.

According to the traditional Chinese Zodiac story, a competition was held by the Jade Emperor to decide the order of animals in the calendar. All animals left at the same time. The quick-witted Rat asked the diligent Ox to take him on a ride across the river. Nearing the finish line, the cunning Rat jumped down before the Ox could cross, so the Rat won the race and became the first of the Zodiac animals.

As the story goes, the Dog finished 11th place in the Grand Race because he loved to bathe and splash in the water letting 10 other animals pass. Only the Pig, who had eaten so much and fallen asleep, fared worse in 12th place. 

Animal Characteristics

Each animal is associated with certain characteristics, and it is believed that people born in a given year have the personality of that year’s animal.

A great example of this is the Dog:

A Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty. They will never abandon their friends, family or work. 

Honest and just, they are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits.

Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they will not let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can persuade them against it.

Does this sound like your dog? Or you if you were born in a Dog year?

Did you know

The modern character for “dog” in Chinese is pronounced “go” (spelt “gou” or written as 狗). This modern character is derived from an ancient pictograph, which looks like this:

All you need to do is turn the pictograph onto its side, and you’ll see it looks just like a dog: