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Zodiac Fun: Year of the Snake!

Happy Year of the Snake! The Lunar Calendar, based on the activity of the moon, is still observed in much of East Asia. With the Lunar Calendar come the 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Unlike the Western zodiac, the Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle rather than twelve months. In the Chinese culture, time was told in units of twelve. Animals were assigned to the 12 Earthly Branches in order for people to easily memorize each branch. Read on to find out more about what significance the 12 animals of the zodiac hold in Chinese culture.

Race for the Ages

How were the twelve animals of the zodiac chosen? There are a good number of origin stories on how the twelve animals of the zodiac came to be. The most widely-told folktale tells of a banquet held by the Jade Emperor, the ruler of the Heavens and Earth. He invited all of the animals in his realm to the banquet, and a race across a river would determine which animals would get to be in the zodiac and in what order.

Looking at the 12 animals, there is a conspicuous lack of the cat. The dog is there, so why not the cat? There is actually a story to explain this. It goes that the cat asked the rat to wake him up on the day of the big race. The rat, being aware of the cat's speed, goes to the race without waking up the cat. Having been betrayed, the cat now spends its days chasing the rat as payback.

The animal that came in first place was surprisingly the smallest as well: the rat. Having tricked the cat, the rat now used its cunning to win the race by hopping on the back of the ox as it paddled across the river. The ox came in second, with the tiger in third, then the rabbit, and so on. The goat, monkey and rooster helped each other in getting across the river, so people under those signs have an affinity for each other. The dog finished 11th because it wanted to wade in the water and take a bath. The pig came in last after it took a break to enjoy a snack and nap.

Interestingly enough, the cat appears in the Vietnamese Zodiac, in place of the rabbit. As a lover of both cats and rabbits, I am slightly bummed that they aren't together in the same zodiac.

Due to the widespread influence of Chinese culture, neighboring countries have adopted the Chinese zodiac, with slight variations. In the Vietnamese zodiac, the water buffalo replaces the ox; similarly in the Japanese zodiac, the wild boar takes the place of the pig. Because the Chinese characters for certain animals do not take into account differences in genus, the rat will often be translated as mouse, and the sheep may be called goat or ram.

Influence On Our Lives

Horoscopes according to the Chinese Zodiac are quite similar to western horoscopes in that they are chiefly concerned with the personal matters of love, money, and health.The Chinese believed that many aspects of human life are governed by the interrelationship between the animals and their human counterparts. One major ways this plays out is in our compatibility in our interaction with others. Be it social, romantic, or business relationships, zodiac signs play a big part in whether people will get along. Check out the compatibility chart below.

Each of the zodiac sign have qualities that affect our personality, based on the demeanor of the animals. For example, people born under the year of the dragon are perceived as being natural leaders due to the strength and reverence for the animal of the sign. Rabbit people tend to avoid conflict, in accordance with rabbit's peaceful nature.

The year of your zodiac sign rolls around every 12 years (when you're 12, 24, 36, and so forth), and that year is known as 本命年(bén mìng nián), or "year of origin life." According to tradition, that year of your own sign is actually one of bad luck. During these crucial years, you have to be on your toes and make careful decisions. One thing people recommend you do is to wear red, a fortuitous color, as often as possible to ward off the bad luck. Another possible defense during this shaky year would be to wear lucky jade jewelry on the left side of your body. The catch is that the jewelry has to be a gift from another person; you cannot generate your own luck by buying yourself things, unfortunately.

Show Off Your Sign

Now that you've found out more about the significance of the Chinese zodiac, what's your sign? Keep in mind that the lunar calendar does not align directly with our regular calendar, so people born in January actually below to the sign of the previous year. Be sure that consult a lunar calendar to find out exactly which sign you fall under. Do you find the animal in some way reflect who you are? Please let us what sign you belong to in the survey below. If you would like to show off your Chinese zodiac animal sign, we offer cute items for that express purpose.

Rilakkuma, the popular San-X character, loves to dress up as other animals. For the recent Lunar New Year, he appeared in plush toy form with the character dressing up as the 12 animals of the zodiac. You can get the corresponding plush for each of your family member's zodiac sign for nice, soft way to display your Chinese zodiac alignment.

We also have zodiac animal mini mugs. Each of these miniature cups include an adorable illustration drawn in simple black and white that shows off the charm and personality of each animal.To see all of our Chinese Zodiac-themed products, simply type "zodiac" into our search bar.

There is a reason why the popularity of the Chinese zodiac animals has endured. On the whole, people are basically self-centered. We love to find out more about ourselves, and zodiac signs, whether the Greek or Chinese version, offers us an opportunity to analyze ourselves and those around us. Our fate on this earth will always matter to us, and because of that, the animals of the Chinese zodiac will remain relevant as well.

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