Xin nian kuai-le (“sheen neeahn kwai luh”)!
Happy lunar new year Friday to all 12 animals of the zodiac, with a special nod to dogs; it’s their lucky year.
While the Chinese zodiac calendar was not implemented until 2600 B.C.E. by Emperor Huang Ti, its traditions originated several thousand years earlier in the time of compassionate Prince Siddharta, the first buddha. Legend has it that Buddha called animals to him before his death. The dozen who complied became the animals of the 12-year cycle (repeated five times for a 60-year cycle of the lunar calendar).
This lunar focus — shared by nearly all pre-Christian calendars — is why the Chinese New Year falls on a different date in January or February each year. If your birthdate falls before February 16 this year, your zodiac animal is last year’s.
Eastern civilizations believe that when a new year begins, the last must be silenced. That takes some doing, so during the two-week Chinese New Year celebrations, debts are paid; old wounds healed, forgiven and forgotten; doors painted and windows washed; hair restyled.
New life, new hope, clean slate.
Like western astrology’s associations with birth month, Chinese astrologists believe birth year tremendously influences personality. Each of the animals in the 12-year cycle corresponds with character traits, but that’s not all. Each person also has an “inner animal,” based upon birth month, but more on that next time.
The animals in order are:
Rat (said to be first because he tricked the others) — imaginative, witty, charming, generous, but quick-tempered and thrifty. Birth years: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008. Lucky numbers: 2, 3; lucky colors are blue, gold, green. Best matches: dragon, monkey, ox. Avoid sheep, horses, and rabbits.
Ox — patient, speak little, conservative, methodical, good with hands. Hate to be contradicted. Born 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009. Lucky numbers and colors: 1, 9; blue, red, purple. Best matches: rat, snake, rooster. Avoid horses, dogs, and sheep.
Tiger — sensitive, deep-thinking, bold, loving. Not so good with authority (who’d mess with a tiger?). Born 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010. Lucky numbers and colors: 1, 3, 4; blue, gray, white, orange. Best matches: horse, dog. Avoid snakes and monkeys.
Rabbit — articulate, talented, ambitious, self-controlled. Born 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011. Lucky numbers and colors: 3, 4, 9; red, pink, purple, blue. Best matches: sheep, pig, dog. Avoid rats and dragons.
Dragon — healthy, energetic, inspire confidence, eccentric, and stubborn. Born 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012. Lucky numbers and colors: 1, 7, 6; gold, silver, hoary (greyish white). Best matches: rat, monkey, rooster. Avoid oxen, rabbits, and dogs.
Snake — deep, financially well-off, intense, good-looking, but may be vain. Born 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013. Lucky numbers and colors: 2, 8, 9; red, light yellow, black. Best matches: ox, rooster. Avoid tigers and pigs.
Horse — popular, cheerful, talkative, independent, impatient. Born 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014. Lucky numbers and colors: 2, 3, 7; brown, yellow, purple. Best matches: tiger, sheep, dog. Avoid rats, oxen, and rabbits.
Sheep/ram/goat — Diplomatic, communicative, compassionate, elegant in appearance, but confused by life. Birth years: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015. Lucky numbers and colors: 3, 9, 4; green, red, purple. Best Matches: rabbit, horse, pig. Avoid ox, dog.
Monkey — inventive, clever, overly agreeable, strong-willed, but quick to let go of anger. 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016. Lucky numbers and colors 1, 8, 7; white, golden, blue. Best matches: rat, dragon, snake. Avoid tigers and pigs.
Rooster — deep-thinking, capable, often right, emotional, lonely, but interesting. 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005. Lucky numbers and colors: 7, 5, 8; gold, brown, yellow. Best matches: ox, dragon, snake. Avoid rats, rabbits, and dogs.
Dog — It’s your lucky year! Loyal, honest, non-materialistic, but can be selfish. 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006. Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9; colors are green, red, purple. Best matches: tiger, rabbit, horse. Avoid oxen, dragons, and sheep.
Pig — honest, shy (but warm), and patient; tend to withdraw when harmed. 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007. Lucky numbers and colors: 2, 5, 8; yellow, grey, brown, gold. Best matches: sheep, rabbit. Avoid snakes, monkeys, and pigs.
January and February babies, remember to check which day your birth lunar year began to pick the right animal sign.
Curious about your inner animals? Are you a fire sign, water, earth, or air? You may be more yin or yang (no, it’s not about gender), but that could change. See Tuesday’s column to find out.
Whatever your sign, each person may exhibit different animals’ characteristics at different times of the year, month, and day. It takes each part of the interrelated whole to get a full picture from Chinese astrology, bringing this precept to mind: “All phenomena are a differentiation of one infinity.”
Sholeh Patrick is a sheepish columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Contact her at Sholeh@cdapress.com.