“What’s your sign?”
“I’m a rat!” “I’m a pig!”
This might sound odd, unless you’re familiar with the Chinese zodiac system, which is comprised of 12 animals, including the rat and the pig.
The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac cycles through every 12 years, so depending on your birth year, you are one of 12 animals. But be aware that this system is based on the lunar calendar, not the Gregorian calendar, so the start of the new year shifts each year in accordance with the moon. Generally, Lunar New Year happens sometime between late January and early February. This year, the new year is February 5, ushering in the Year of the Pig.
The origin story for this system varies, but generally, it’s believed that Buddha wanted to invite 12 animals to his birthday party and declared a race – the first 12 animals to arrive would be his honoured guests. The rat, small but strategic, knew he’d never win on his own, so jumped on the back of the fastest animal, the ox. Nearing Buddha, the rat jumped off and scurried into first place, which is why the rat is always first in the cycle. And the ox, second.
Each animal sign is endowed with personality traits, partially derived from the origin story, partially from the animals’ inherent characteristics. While western culture typically assigns more negative traits to many of the animals in the Chinese zodiac, Chinese mythology has a very different interpretation. So don’t fret if you’re a rat or a snake or a pig.
As the rat’s ride to the party, the ox is very patient, diligent, and honest. On the other hand, the ox can often be stubborn, narrow-minded, and a poor communicator.
Even though the tiger came in third in Buddha’s race, it is generally considered a very lucky animal. Tigers are charming, courageous, and have the potential to be good leaders. But watch out, they can also easily be prone to boastfulness, irritability, and overindulgence.
People born in the year of the rabbit tend to be kind, popular, and generally enjoy a long life. Rabbits also make great negotiators. However, they also tend to be secretive, stubborn, and quick to settle into melancholy so they do well to keep a large circle of good friends.
Everyone wants to be a dragon: they are energetic, powerful, and have a robust constitution. But, cross a dragon and you’ll see its conceited, judgemental, and quick-tempered side.
If someone calls you a snake, take it as a compliment. In the Chinese zodiac, a snake is considered to be charming, generous, and discreet. And if you are one, just keep your propensity for being lazy and greedy in check.
Horses in this zodiac are energetic with an indomitable spirit, clever, and easily draw others into their circle. But they can also often be arrogant, over-confident, and selfish.
Goat (also sheep or ram) are considered to be polite, calm, and determined. On the flip side, they can have unrealistic expectations, are prone to pessimism and can be slow on the uptake.
Everyone should know a monkey; monkeys are so charming and fun and creative. But get close enough and you’ll quickly see another side that’s arrogant, crafty, and eternally restless.
Roosters are practical, hard-working, independent, and love keeping a tidy home. They have the potential to make the perfect partner, but keep in mind their propensity to be easily swayed by others and a lack of social skills.
Loyal, kind, and friendly, dogs are very much akin to their animal counterparts. But their love of a good home life often keeps them from socializing with others. And once they’re out of their comfort zone, they can be cold, stubborn, and highly judgemental.
Pigs don’t have the best reputation in Western culture, but in this zodiac pigs are seen as intelligent, compassionate, and ruled by a sense of just. They’re also considered to be very lucky in wealth, which is good since they have a taste for luxury. The pig was last to arrive at Buddha’s party not because it was slow or tired, but because the pig was watching out for everyone else, to make sure they arrived safely. The darker side of pigs reveal their extreme stubbornness, naiveté, and materialism.
What to Expect in the Year of the Pig
Typically, it’s not considered auspicious when it’s your animal year. However, pigs this year will thankfully enjoy a very happy and successful year – so much so that they should actually be cautious of others being envious or attracting “friends of convenience”. Their overall prospects for their career, health, and romance look good but where they really prosper is in wealth.
For everyone else, it depends on how your individual animal sign reacts to this year’s pig element. But overall, because the pig is generally a very lucky and wealthy animal, this should translate to a prosperous year for all. The year will be marked by a sense of abundance and lightness. And like the laid-back pig, most will experience a relaxed year. However, those who make an extra effort with their career or in love will also see increased rewards.