Chinese New Year is just around the corner and will be celebrated on 12th February when the Year of the Rat, which didn’t exactly cover itself in glory, will be replaced by the Year of the Ox. Every Chinese year is defined not only by its animal but also by one of five elements and 2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox and its message couldn’t be clearer – success will come to those who work hard, really hard!

Records found in excavated bamboo books from ancient times have shown the existence of a Chinese Zodiac from since before the Qin Dynasty (221-270BC). And the twelve-animal zodiac has been around since approximately 25BC during the reign of the Eastern Han Dynasty. However, the true origin of the Zodiac is little more than a theory. Some believe that the animals of the Chinese Zodiac have been condensed from twenty-eight animals which represent the twenty-eight constellations in Ancient Chinese astronomy. Others believe that number of animals on the zodiac is related to Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun, which is 12 years. The number twelve is significant within Ancient cultures and the Chinese Zodiac runs in twelve, yearly cycles rather than the twelve, monthly cycles of the Gregorian calendar.  But really, all of the guesses and legends which surround its origin make it all the more intriguing. 

There are loads of great stories about how the animals were chosen to appear in the Zodiac, but my favourite is about the race, organised by the Jade Emperor, to determine the order they would appear. Twelve species turned up to the race, which was won by the Rat, who jumped on the back of the Ox as it crossed the river on the final leg of the race. It jumped off just before the Ox reached the shore and claimed its place as the first animal in the cycle. The others followed in order, each with a story behind them, with the dog and pig rolling in 11th and 12th. The dog got distracted and played in the river, whilst the pig stopped off for a snack on its way to the finish line. Which, after this year, may be something we can all relate to!

Built like an Ox

The year of the Ox is welcomed in Chinses culture due to its association with agriculture and hard work, so it follows that Oxen are dependable, industrious and hard workers. They have strong staying power, are cautious and don’t jump into making decisions, but once made, an ox rarely regrets its decisions. However, Oxen can also be stubborn and poor communicators. 

A hard-working ethic will stand those with a birth year of the Ox in good stead in 2021 and who would argue with that? The trials and tribulations of 2020 have continued into this new year and are likely to dominate the landscape for a while yet, but hopefully with the success of the vaccine and a bit of a positive mental attitude we can all get through it. 

It might seem like an impossible challenge, but if we greet the year with the strength of an Ox we will all pull through.

Check out the birth years below and see if you are an Ox.

1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021 and the next year of the Ox will be 2033.

Blair Morgan

Author Blair Morgan

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