What is the Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is China’s most important festival. Many Chinese families will get together over the course of this week (11th – 17th February) to usher in the Year of the Ox.
Across the world people have used symbols of animals, from the ancient Egyptian gods bearing the heads of animals such as dogs, ibis and even crocodiles. To the Hindu monkey god Hanuman and the elephant headed god Ganesh there are many animals which have been honored and worshiped around the world.
Northern European’s held the belief that animals are messengers of the spirit world. Whilst Native Americans believe in animals as spirit guides. The signs of the Zodiac contain a few animals, namely lion, crab, fish, ram, bull, goat and scorpion.
The Chinese calendar contains 12 animals and rotates every 60 years with cycles based on 12 earthly branches represented by different animals. The years are also represented every five years by different elements of nature – metal, wood, fire, earth and water. This year is metal, making 2021 the year of the Metal Ox.
The Great Animal Race
The traditional Chinese myth (folk tale) suggests that the Emperor Jade maintained that the order that animals would appear in the Chinese calendar would be determined by the order in which they arrived at his party. The tale goes, that on the morning of the party Rat got up early and set off – but Ox being bigger was in the lead. Rat hatched a plan to get a lift on Ox’s back. He persuaded Ox to give him a lift by offering to sing to Ox as they went along their journey. Clever Rat was a bit more sneaky than Ox and as they arrived at the Emperor’s party Rat jumped down and stole a march on Ox beating Ox to first place. So Ox was placed second in the calendar!
What’s it like to be an Ox?
Well, on a personal level broadly speaking, if you are born in the year of the Ox, then you are likely to be diligent and dependable, with strength and determination! If we scratch a little deeper and you’re a woman, then you are expected to be a faithful wife who places great importance on your children’s education. Meanwhile male Ox’s are deemed to be very patriotic with strong ambitions in their lives placing great importance on work and family.
Ox’s by their nature have patience in abundance. Through perseverance, Ox’s will often achieve their goals. They are not easily swayed from their task by others and just get the job done through their characteristic determination. Ox’s will however, not just set out willy nilly to complete a job but will sit down and plan out the process with a detailed strategy, before applying their faith and strength to the mission. This means that they often achieve what they set out to do and frequently gain great success in life.
But there has to be a balance and Ox’s are not all perfect – they have their flaws too. Their lack of communication is possibly their biggest flaw. Repeatedly taking the view that its not worthwhile exchanging ideas with others, they tend to stick stubbornly to their own ways and carry on regardless.
What can we expect from an Ox year in 2021?
As hinted at the Ox symbolises hard work and positivity along with a fair old slice of honesty thrown in. So, if we were to apply this broadly to ourselves as we move into 2021 I wonder what the outcome might be? The Ox is grounded, loyal, gentle and trustworthy according to Jupiter Lai, a Hong-Kong based Chinese and Western astrologer. Boy could we all do with a dose of gentle, grounded trustworthiness after the chaos of 2020!
There is more to the year than just the Ox though. Other forces are at work. Each earthly branch (animal) is characterized by a yin or yang force which can be hard, fast and active (yang) or slow soft and passive (yin). This year you’ll be pleased to know the force is yin (slow, soft and passive) compared to last years yang which clearly sums up the way the pandemic swept like wild fire across the world!
The element this year is Metal. In feng shui terms, this relates to a clean environment which is pared down and shiny like metal. So perhaps 2021 is a time to clear out the old to make way for a new uncluttered start. Metal also rules the lungs – which is a good thing seeing as Covid seems to negatively affect peoples breathing!
Why Was 2020, The Year Of The Rat, So Bad?
The year of the Rat held the element water, which by its very nature is shifting and changing all the time. Couple this with the yang force, hard, fast and active and you have pretty much got a covid metaphor on your hands! It’s difficult not to draw parallels depicted in the Chinese calendar for last year. My greatest hope is that the solidity of metal coupled with strong determined Ox may give us a greater sense of grounding this year. If this does pan out this way it will be a welcome change from what has certainly felt like a storm that we have all just had to ride out in 2020.
A Hopeful Outlook For 2021
So, I for one, am looking forward to saying good bye to the Watery Rat which has been ruling over 2020 and welcoming in a sloid and strong Ox that might lead the way with perseverance and strength as we all move forward out of this pandemic into a clean fresh and healthy 2021.
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!
If you have any thoughts of questions about this blog – please get in touch I’d love to hear from you.