Last Saturday we entered the Chinese New Year: The Year of the Metal Rat. But what does that mean? I was curious about it so I decided to do some research about the Chinese Zodiac!
The Chinese Calendar
The Chinese calendar starts on a different date every year because it follows lunar cycles, unlike our calendar which is based on solar cycles. The frist day of this year was just after the New Moon in Aquarius which was January 24th, therefore the new year started on January 25th.
The 12 Animals of Chinese Astrology
According to one legend, the Jade Emperor, although having ruled Heaven and Earth for many years, had never had the time to actually visit the Earth personally. He grew curious as to what the creatures looked like. Thus, he asked all the animals to visit him in heaven.
The Cat , being the most handsome of all animals, asked his friend the Rat to wake him on the day they were to go to Heaven so he wouldn’t oversleep. The Rat, however, was worried that he would seem ugly compared to the Cat, so he didn’t wake the cat. Consequently, the Cat missed the meeting with the Jade Emperor and was replaced by the Pig.
The Jade Emperor was delighted with the animals and so decided to divide the years up amongst them. When the cat learned of what had happened, he was furious with the Rat and that, according to the story, is why cats and Rats are enemies to this day.
The Chinese Zodiac is based on these 12 Animals Signs, each having its own year in the cycle. The animal ruling year in which you were born exercises a profound influence on your life. As the Chinese say, “This is the animal that hides in your heart”.
To find out which animal corresponds to your birth date, find the year you were born in this chart:
If your birthday falls around January and February you can verify when the Chinese new year started that year by using this calculator.
Words that describe the character of each Animal:
Rat: Intelligent, clever, charming and persuasive
Ox: Stubborn, patient, conservative
Tiger: Brave, passionate, commanding
Rabbit: Earnest, likable, empathetic
Dragon: Intrepid, cunning, spirited, strong
Snake: Shy, friendly, astute, inviting
Horse: Restless, wanderlust, self-reliant
Goat: Coy, timid, peaceful
Monkey: Lively, boisterous, fun
Rooster: Perceptive, diligent, pragmatic
Dog: Loyal, kindhearted, forgiving
Pig: Sympathetic, appreciative, honest
The 5 Elements of Chinese Astrology
Just like Wicca, Chinese astrology observes five elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. Air is not included since the Chinese believe that air is the force of life and it’s much too important as to call it an element.
Each year corresponds to an animal and each year has a ruling element. The cycle of elements/animals is repeated every sixty years. The year 2020 corresponds to the Metal Rat.
:･ﾟ✵ :･ﾟ✧:･ﾟ✵ :･ﾟ✧:･ﾟ
The last digit of your lunar birth year determines your element:
- Metal: Birth years ending in 0 or 1
- Water: Birth years ending in 2 or 3
- Wood: Birth years ending in 4 or 5
- Fire: Birth years ending in 6 or 7
- Earth: Birth years ending in 8 or 9
Words that describe the character of each Element:
- Metal: Determined, Persistent, Workaholic, Manager, Tiger
- Water: Sympathetic, Perfectionist, Coordinator, Chameleon
- Wood: Exceptionally gifted, Idealists, Planner, Owl
- Fire: Courageous, Passionate, Good at research, King, Koala
- Earth: Kindness, Tolerant, Honest, Leader, Peacock
Fortune Predictions for the Year of the Rat
Here’s an article with predictions for 2020 written by Hong Kong Chinese astrology master So Man-fung Peter: