The Chinese calendar has begun once again, the New Year landing on the 25th of January. However, it actually is celebrated for much longer than one day, dissimilar to our own New Year’s Day which is normally filled with drooping eyelids and comfort food as we recover from midnight celebrations of dancing, hosting, staying up with board games or so on. Chinese New Year can be separated into three stages, the first being the eight days of “little year” (this year from 17th-24th of January) where preparations begin and excitement mounts. Then on the 25th, New Year’s begins and heralds the 11-day spring festival ending on February 4th. Rounding the festivities up is the beautiful lantern festival which is prepared for over four days and is held on February 8th.
This year is the Year of the Rat with the elemental sign of metal. Rat is the first sign in the list of Chinese Zodiacs and the extrapolated meanings of which is just as fascinating as the other eleven repeating animals. This year, the Year of the Rat lasts an unusual thirteen months spanning until 11th February 2021.
The story of how the Chinese Zodiac and their places came into existence is quite popular in modern Chinese culture. In one version, it tells the story of the Jade Emperor (the ruler of Heaven, Earth and Hell) who held a race for the most important animals which would determine their place in the order of the Zodiac. The Cat, asked the Rat to wake him up in time for the race but the Rat, rather slyly or forgetfully (according to different tales) did not. He started the race without him and consequentially the Cat never woke up to compete, hence why the Cat does not feature in the Zodiac. The Rat ran the race and came across a river, which he could not cross, when the next animal arrived, the kind Ox, he asked for safe passage on his back for which the Ox generously obliged. When they reached the other side of the river however, the Rat quickly jumped off and ran forward to cross the finish line first.
Symbolical meanings for the rat vary from source to source. It is generally agreed that the rat can be associated with earthy elements and with Yang, the light and positive side of the Yin Yang. Rats are also deemed to be clever, witty, quick thinking, resourceful optimistic and likable, though sometimes lacking in courage. They are most compatible with those born in the years of the Ox, Dragon and Monkey. Lucky colors are blue, gold and green and their lucky numbers are 2 and 3. Lucky directions are west, northwest and southwest and they are said to be best-suited to careers as lawyers, politicians, musicians, writers, managers, entrepreneurs and more. However, some sources argue that Rats are not well suited to managerial or entrepreneurial roles due to a lack of courage and instead more suited for creative jobs. Some sources say that rats are good with money, others contest that. So, as with many horoscope-like theories it is an imprecise science.
For us all though, the Year of the Rat is said to be one of “new beginnings and renewal.” Indeed, the rat is often aligned with mornings and beginnings. As 2020 also affiliates with the earthly symbol of metal, the year of the metal rat is said to be a prosperous, strong and lucky year for all and a good year to evolve, show determination and reap the successes of your goals, aspirations and projects. It will be particularly good for business ventures. Unfortunately for Rats, apparently the year of one’s Zodiac sign is said to be the most unfortunate. Although the year may present hardships, 2020 in general is said to be successful it should still be a prosperous year.
In an article from CNN, So Man-Fung says: “Chinese astrology and feng shui aren’t about changing your fate and predicting what exactly will happen… It’s about finding that law and flow of the universe. When you know how to calculate it, you can predict the trends for everything. If you’re enjoying a lucky streak, knowing that may give you the confidence and courage needed to start your own business.”
So, if you believe in, or enjoy Zodiac readings, be sure to read up on your sign and see what the year has in store for you. However, avoid harmful and self-fulfilling prophesying, it is not a meant to be a precise overview of the future but a helpful guideline to help you recognize, prosper from and navigate through all that your year has to offer, the good and the bad, the Yin and the Yang.