Today the Chinese celebrate the New Year. Each year is assigned an animal based on the Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao and this is the Year of the Horse.
The zodiac has evolved over hundreds of years and is very complex. Not only do you need to know the year in which you were born, but also the month, day and hour.
The true origin behind the story is unknown and there are several accounts. In Buddhism, legend has it that Buddha summoned all of the animals of the earth to come before him before his departure from this earth, but only 12 animals actually came to bid him farewell. To reward the animals who came to him, he named a year after each of them. The years were given to them in the order they had arrived.
Another story tells that God called the animals to a banquet that night. The Rat, who loved to play tricks on his neighbour, told the cat that the banquet was on the day after tomorrow. The Cat believed his neighbour the Rat and slept whilst dreaming of the banquet. The next day, the Rat arrived first followed by the Ox, the Tiger and the rest of the animals. The order of the animals was decided by the order that they arrived. The Cat was devastated and vowed that he would always hate the Rat. This is why cats chase Rats in folklore.
Though people consider the rat not adorable, and it even makes its way into derogatory languages, it ranks first on the Chinese zodiac. It has attributes of an animal with spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality
Ranked as the second zodiac, the ox is huge. In life, people often used it to indicate something big in size or large in number. It is persistent, simple, honest, and straightforward. Fractious people are said to have an 'oxen temper'.
|We love our tiger T-shirts, which you can buy here|
Tigers, considered to be brave, cruel, forceful and terrifying, are the symbol of power and lordliness. In ancient times, people usually compared emperors or grandees with the tiger. Court officials often said that 'accompanying the emperor is just like being at the side of a tiger'. There are also many legends on hunting tigers dealing with struggling against evil might.
|Or perhaps you prefer a rabbit|
The rabbit has represented hope for a long time, by Chinese people. It is tender and lovely. The moon goddess Chang'e in Chinese legend had a rabbit as her pet, which stimulated the thought that only this creature was amiable enough to match her noble beauty. The Chinese character 'Tu' (rabbit) is part of 'Yi' (escape or leisure) indicating speed and distance.
|We love the dragon too|
The dragon enjoys a very high reputation in Chinese culture. It is the token of authority, dignity, honor, success, luck, and capacity. In ancient China, this creature was thought to speed across the sky with divine power. Emperors entitled themselves exclusively as 'dragon'; their thrones were called 'dragon thrones', their clothes 'dragon gowns'.
|I'm a snake.|
Snakes often have a good temper and a skill at communicating but say little. They possess gracious morality and great wisdom. They are usually financially secure and do not have to worry about money. They have tremendous sympathy for others and would like to take actions to help their fellow human beings. They prefer to rely on themselves and have doubts about other people's judgement. They are courteous with polite manners, but they can be headstrong.
Horses have ingenious communicating techniques and in their community they always want to be in the limelight. They are clever, kind to others, and like to join in a venture career. Although they sometimes talk too much, they are cheerful, perceptive, talented, earthy but stubborn. They like entertainment and large crowds.
People under the sign of the sheep are tender, polite, filial, clever, and kind-hearted. They have special sensitivity to art and beauty, faith in a certain religion and a special fondness for quiet living. They are wise, gentle and compassionate and can cope with business cautiously and circumspectly. Sheep are often worriers who are shy, pessimistic, moody, indecisive, over-sensitive, week-willed and puzzled about life.
|Any cheeky monkey would look great in this top.|
Monkeys are more erratic geniuses in their character and life. They are lively, flexible, quick-witted and versatile. They love moving about and sports. Being talented problem solvers, they are self-assured, sociable and innovative, with competent practical ability. They are jealous, suspicious, cunning, selfish and arrogant sometimes, and they tend to look down upon others.
Roosters are deep thinkers considered to be honest, bright, communicative, ambitious, capable and warm-hearted. They have strong self-respect and seldom rely on others. As most roosters are born pretty or handsome, they prefer to dress up. They have a quick mind and hot temper. They like to be busy and neat. They are not reluctant to fall behind others and hate dawdlers.
|Let your best friend know they're special. Buy them a T-shirt.|
Anyone born in the Year of Dog has a straightforward character. In their career and love, they are faithful, courageous, dexterous, smart and warm-hearted. They know how to keep secrets and inspire other people's confidence. Those people make good leaders. If they fall in love with someone, they would not change. They can be terribly stubborn with the right things.
|This little piggy went to market, where all his friends admired his cool T-shirt.|
Pig is not thought to be smart as dog. It likes sleeping and eating and becomes fat. Thus it usually features laziness and clumsiness. On the positive side, it behaves itself, has no calculation to harm others, and can bring affluence to people. Consequently, pigs were once regarded as wealth.
If you want to know which animal you are, you can find out here.