Happy Chinese New Year! February 12th marks the start of the New Year or “Spring Festival” in 2021. The traditional Chinese calendar is lunisolar (based on the moon). This means that New Year is usually celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Celebrations start the evening before and last for 15 days- culminating in the famous Lantern Festival! 2021 welcomes in the Year of the Ox, read on to find out what this means.

The Chinese zodiac

Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of twelve animals. How were these chosen? While there are many variations on this story, most are centred on a great race proposed by the Jade Emperor (some say on his birthday). The outcome would decide what order the animals came in the zodiac. These animals had to cross a huge, fast flowing river. As they approached it, the clever water-hating rat and cat asked the ox if they could ride on his back across the river. Ox, being strong and kind, agreed and powered through the water. But as they neared the shore and the finish line, rat pushed cat into the water, and jumped off ox to run ahead and win the race.

Not far behind was tiger and then smart rabbit, who had floated over on a log. Next came dragon, who you’d think would be first, but he’d paused mid-race to save a nearby village (very cool). Snake got a lift over on horse’s legs and startled him out of sixth place. Goat, monkey and rooster shared a raft over, and then dog appeared who’d had a little frolic in the water. And last came pig. As you can probably tell from the story, each animal has a different set of characteristics associated with it.

Find out what zodiac animal you are here.

What does it mean to be born in Year of the Ox?

Like the ox, people born in this year are hard workers. They are humble with their accomplishments and careful with their plans. They have great morals and are calm under pressure, although they might not be the best communicators.

The Ox’s lucky colours are white, green and yellow so adorn yourselves with these this year!

Famous Oxen: Barack Obama (1961), Jane Fonda (1937), Kate Moss (1974) George Clooney (1961- metal Ox).

Year of the Ox predictions

2021 is technically a metal ox year- out of the 5 elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) metal represents stability first and foremost. The Ox itself is a symbol of power and longevity. This means that 2021 has the potential to be a more stable, hopeful and successful year. Great news! In the year of the ox hard work is rewarded, and we can get places with discipline and diligence. Relationships, whether family, friend or romantic, are a good focus this year also. Like the story, ox knows how to cultivate good relationships.

New Years Celebrations

New Year is a time for family and celebration! There are usually parades, firework displays and festivities, although due to the UK lockdown this year will look a bit different. Luckily though, food traditions can still be observed! Dumplings are eaten as a representation of wealth, and fish is traditionally served on New Years because it symbolises “surplus,” encouraging a fruitful year ahead. Check out some great recipes for these and other symbolic dishes here.

You can also dress yourself and decorate your house in the most auspicious colour: red! This encourages good luck for the rest of the year. Red envelopes are given to send luck (and money as a token of appreciation) to colleagues, friends and family. These can even be sent electronically this year! There are also some fantastic stories and myths surrounding Chinese New Year to read as a way of welcoming in the Year of the Ox.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Sarah Worgan
Sarah is currently a doctoral student and she has always been an animal lover. She grew up in the Cotswolds so she loves escaping the town and being outdoors. Several years ago, Sarah adopted two rescue greyhounds who continue to take her on new adventures.

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