Happy New Year! We’re well aware that is almost February now, but today begins the Chinese New Year, ruled by the Wooden Horse. Here are the essential notions you must know about this Asian celebration that has captured the interest of the entire world!

 

What’s the Chinese Zodiac?

The origins of the Chinese Zodiac are quite blurry. Some believe it has to do with the agrarian practices of the earlier residents of China, while others have tied it with their astronomy and religion. Unlike the Western Zodiac, the signs of the Chinese Zodiac are determined by year, and each year is ruled by a different animal: rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog or pig.

According to the legend, Buddha –or in some accounts, the Emperor- invited the animals to a banquet at his palace, and after lots of trickery and feuds, the order in which the animals arrived was used to the determine the cycle in which the twelve animals would be arranged in the Zodiac.

The animals are grouped in categories of five elements, which are useful for defining the characteristics of the person born under it. They’re: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. Each animal has a fixed element, but it’s also found in the other categories, which is why although the Horse belongs to the Fire element, this year it’s related to Wood. Every animal goes through all the elements every 12 years, and it takes 60 years for it to return to its’ fixed element.

The Chinese Zodiac is useful for determining people’s fortunes as well as their age.

 

 

Why is the Chinese New Year celebrated during late January?

This is due to the type of calendar used to define the dates. The Chinese New Year is determined by a lunisolar calendar, meaning it’s based on the cycle of the moon and the rotation of the earth around the sun. In this calendar, each month has about 28 days, and the years last between 353 to 355 days.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated during the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is determined by very complex calculations. This usually falls somewhere between late January and February, when it’s early spring in China, and the celebration lasts around two weeks.

 

It’s the Year of the Wooden Horse. What does it mean?

The horse is considered a royal, social and intelligent creature. When related to wood, it also means the person under this element is a hard worker, grounded, generous and progressive. They’re great leaders, and are amongst the favorite signs of the Zodiac.

For people with other zodiac signs, the combination of animal and element can be either detrimental or good. The horse’s best partners are the Dog and the Tiger, while the Rat is considered an enemy of the Horse, therefore making this a hard year for those born under this sign.

 

 

How do I figure out my zodiac sign?

As we’ve mentioned before, the Chinese Zodiac is a cycle which repeats itself every 12 years. To determine your sign in the Chinese Zodiac you must take a look at a chart, like the one below:

 

Keep reading!

 

Sources:
About.com. The origins of the Chinese Zodiac. http://chineseculture.about.com/od/chinesesuperstitions/a/Chinesezodiac.htm
ChinaToday.com. Chinese Zodiac. http://www.chinatoday.com/culture/zodiac/zodiac.htm
Chinese Fortune Calendar. 2014 Chinese Zodiac for Year of the Horse Predictions. http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2014/2014Zodiac.htm
HowStuffWorks. How Chinese New Year Works. http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/holidays/chinese-new-year1.htm
TSEMRinpoche.com. The 5 elements of the Chinese Zodiac. http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/horoscopes/the-5-elements-of-the-chinese-zodiac.html
Whats Your Sign. Chinese Zodiac Signs and Meanings. http://www.whats-your-sign.com/Chinese-zodiac-signs.html