2008 · YEAR OF THE RAT
While Europe is still hibernating, long after recovering from its New Year’s Eve hangover, fireworks explode in China. The Chinese New Year always takes place on the new moon between January 21st and February 19th. This year it is February 7th 2008. The year of the rat will last 12 months – for with every change of year a new zodiac sign is celebrated.
In Chinese astrology there are also twelve signs, like in the Western world. Only some of them have descriptions which seem less flattering in our culture. They change every year in the following order: rat – ox – tiger – rabbit – dragon – snake – horse – sheep – monkey – rooster – dog – pig.
The legends of the star signs
There are numerous legends about the origins of the zodiac signs, although one is especially popular: Buddha himself ascertained the signs of the Chinese horoscope. He invited all the animals to the New Year’s party – but only twelve showed up. To reward their efforts for travelling so far, Buddha gave his twelve guests a present: From henceforth each year would carry the name of an animal and every animal would be able to rule over the events that took place over the year. This also included the destiny of the people who were born in that period.
The rat wins the race
The animals allegedly received their rule in the same order that they arrived at Buddha’s party. The fastest should actually have been the agile ox, but the rat rode on his back and jumped off at the last minute and thus appeared first before Buddha. Buddha decided that the order and the twelve year cycle should be maintained until the current today.
Characteristics of the rat
One says that people who are born in a rat year don’t necessarily achieve success by working hard for it, but that they reach their goal by being shrewd. The rat makes the most out of life and is constantly active, every search has to begin with a new departure. It doesn’t have time for detailed planning, it rather relies on ingenuity and cunning.
The rat is basically optimistic and has lots of self confidence. It doesn’t dwell long on missed chances – new opportunities are always around the corner.
The five elements
The Chinese give a lot of importance to which sign each year is under. The birthrate went up notably in 2007 – it was the year of the pig. It is said whoever is born then can become rich. Fan items like piggy banks, soft toys in the shape of pigs with gold coins in their trotters and pig posters sold well in China.
Although many Chinese oversaw a small but important detail: The years are also assigned to the five elements, which play a big role in Asian philosophy: earth, fire, water, wood and metal. Therefore every combination of an animal with a particular element comes around only every 60 years. According to this, 2007 wasn’t the year of the ‘golden pig’ but the fire pig, which reduces the lucrative consequences.
What the year of the rat should bring
According to astrologers, the rat-year 2008 should be a year of plenty which sees favourable opportunities and good prospects. It is assigned to the element earth, which signifies change and fertility. It is an ideal time for accumulation of wealth and long-term investments. Projects begun in this period should bear fruit in the long run if they are well thought through. However one should beware of unnecessary risks and overestimation of one’s own capabilities. All in all the year should be happy with less big catastrophes than in other years. Haggling and bickering over trivia come to the fore, but this leads to less damage in comparison. If one believes the Chinese astrologers, it will also be an enjoyable time of pleasure and conviviality. It ends January 25th 2009 – which is when the year of the ox begins.
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