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Year of the Rat

Do you know your Chinese zodiac? This is not small talk, it is a polite way to get to know your personality and, in fact, your age. As we are falling into the year 2020, in the Chinese zodiac, it is the year of the Rat. The Year of the Rat started at the beginning of the Lunar New Year, a massive celebration which ran from January 25, 2020 until February 12, 2021. People who were born in the years 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008 are considered a Rat (no offense intended!). 

No one really knows the exact date of when or even how the Chinese zodiac was originally created. The signs follow the moon (rather than the Greco-Roman version, which follows the constellations) as a 12-year cycle. The zodiac started to become popular throughout southeast Asian countries-China, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore etc. It is based on 12 temperaments that are represented by 12 symbolic animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 

In China, people have passed down many stories about these symbolic creatures, and the Rat was the first of all the Zodiac animals. In one myth, a Chinese deity organized the animals in order based on their arrival on New Year’s day, whichever animal arrived first got placed as the first year. The Rat tricked the Ox to give him a ride, so the Rat jumped off the Ox and became first in line.

 In another myth told; the Jade empire held a swimming competition. Both the Rat and the Cat asked to ride the Ox to the finish line since neither of them could swim, but on the way, the Rat pushed the Cat off the Ox, which is meant to explain why the Cat doesn’t appear on the Chinese calendar. Again, the myths told are different, yet they have somewhat similar outcomes. Still today, millions of people believe the superstitions and predictions of the zodiac. 

Chinese astrology animal signs have been used in many stories and folklore. Essentially, just as you are judged by your zodiac, you are also being secretly led by your sign’s fortune and misfortune.  “I’m not that serious about the zodiacs once compared to my family, but I guess I have mindset beliefs too.” said Xiaofen Zhang (Bonnie) a student on campus. 

According to some beliefs, Rats, I’m sorry, you’re not the favourite here. What do I mean? Well, you’re kind of a street Rat. The reproduction rate is low compared to other years and, according to Chinese beliefs, Rats seem to be unlucky. So, this year is where Rats will encounter their zodiac year (or origin of life year). Rats should expect challenges. But don’t worry Rats, there are ways to avoid that. For example, many Chinese believers carry what’s called Fu (符), which might bring luck to those who carry it around. But Rats, don’t get overwhelmed, you are clever, quick thinkers; successful, but also content with living a quiet peaceful life. 

The zodiac plays a funny role in Chinese culture, influencing how people decide to live their lives. The symbolic animals represent personality traits, work ethics, wealth, soulmates, marriage, reproduction and so much more. It is interesting to see how mates compare their zodiacs for compatibility to their own. 

“But don’t you just think it’s all superstition and myth?” Actually, yes, but… no. Chinese zodiacs are just like the way people look at the constellations zodiac. But the Chinese zodiac isn’t just about that; it is about understanding the Chinese culture, since China plays such a big role in the global economy, their decisions based on these zodiacs can impact people all over the world. So, what’s your Chinese zodiac? 

Smile Tongkaw

A young STEM student aspired for Mechanical Engineering and a staff writer at the Collegian. She's interested in design, machines, and the advancement of technology. Her dream is to use her design and technology skills to achieve a significant role in a dominantly male field. She enjoys playing video games, cooking, and mostly spending her time studying.

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