Chinese New Year: The Year of the Ox

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Chinese New Year: The Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

The Chinese year 4707 begins on January 26, 2009, and is celebrated as the symbol of spring’s celebration, after the fall harvest and before the spring planting season.

The date of the Chinese New Year is always changing and is dependent on the Chinese calendar, which was invented by Emperor Huangdi in the year 2637 B.C.E. Chinese months are reckoned by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of holiday from work to prepare for and celebrate the New Year.

Chinese have a unique way of representing the New Year through animals. Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. They have 12 different animals to represent each year of the 12 year-cycle and the order remains the same throughout with the year. As the Chinese year 2008 was signified as the year of the Rat, 2009 is the year of the Ox. January 26th marks the beginning of the 15-day-long festivities through February 9th.

The Chinese New Year is also known as Yuan Tan by the Chinese, which literally means let bygones be bygones. This special moment is commemorated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Preparations for the Chinese New Year tend to begin a month from the date of the Chinese New Year. A huge clean-up is to be done before the New Year. Folks clean the house from top to bottom, to sweep away the dust of the gone year. They also give a new coat of red paint on the doors and windowpanes. As the color red is considered lucky and is believe that it scares the evil. The Chinese New Year is also a time to settle old debts. In ancient China creditors were allowed to pursue debtors. It is believed if by the New Year a debtor has not paid, he will be shamed as well as his family.

At Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper, and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve.


Those born in an Ox year (2009 and every 12th year preceding it) characterizes a dependable, patient, methodical and calm, hardworking, materialistic as well as an ambitious character. They make excellent painters, surgeons, engineers, and architects. Ox are conservative. methodical, and good with their hands. Ox traits include: leadership qualities, great organizers, loyal, patient as well as strong and responsible. They are stable, fearless, obstinate, hard-working and friendly. They are also some of the best people one can have as colleagues in the workplace as they are believed to posses strong work ethics and display their creative side as well, especially when it comes to decorating their home. A born leader, Ox inspire confidence from all around them. Since the people born in the Ox year are also trusted to be reliable and logical, people generally turn towards them for suggestions and guidance. Their honesty and eye for details also helps them to prove their worth both in the workplace as well as in their personal lives.

Oxen include:  Napoleon Bonaparte, Walt Disney, Jane Fonda, Clark Gable, Richard Nixon, Anthony Hopkins, Walt Disney, Rosa Parks, Sylvia Porter, and Vincent Van Gogh.

Chinese Year of the Rat: Prosperity

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Promise of Prosperity:
Chinese Year of the Rat

Chinese New Year this time around is the Year of the Rat, which brings with it the promise of prosperity.

The Chinese admire the rat for its quick mind and ability to gather valuables and save them for the future. Since 2008 is the Year of the Rat, the year ahead should offer many opportunities to acquire wealth, as well as the ability to make choices that enable us to provide comfort for a long time to come.

Since the rat sign is the first in the Chinese zodiac calendar, we may feel the energy of a cycle beginning. We may also feel a pioneering spirit that helps us to forge ahead with a completely new endeavor. Looking beyond Western culture’s distaste for rats, we may be able to appreciate their ability to thrive in less than ideal conditions. This quality might offer us hope that whatever challenges we may face will only serve to make us stronger and more able.

The rat’s ability to solve problems is well-known, so we can choose to enjoy any challenge that helps us keep our minds sharp while also making life more of a game.

A competitive nature may develop within us, leading us to use the rat’s ability to focus on priorities.
The rat can also remind us to be less worried about pleasing everyone we meet and more focused on our goals.

We should be aware of the rat’s habit for collecting and not allow ourselves to become so focused that we neglect those around us. Being constantly on the alert for opportunity can be stressful, so we can make the decision to balance our pursuit of prosperity with the enjoyment of good food and atmosphere and the people we trust to offer us both support and space.

With the energy of challenge and possibility, the year is likely to be exciting without being explosive. The Year of the Rat is sure to offer the type of enjoyable challenges that will enable us to become all we can possibly be.

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Rat

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Happy Chinese New Year! 
The Year of the Rat begins Thursday, February 7  

What can we learn from The Year of the Rat?

In ancient Chinese astrology, it’s a distinction to be born in the Year of the Rat. Unlike the garbage, plague and lab rats of Western culture, the Eastern Rat offers us rich benefits to take advantage of during 2008. Charming and disarming, this Rat is bright and ambitious, curious and imaginative, hard-working and persistent. The Rat is motivated by money and status, a natural leader,  inspirational speaker, intriguing conversationalist and loyal friend. Do any of our Presidential candidates come to mind as you read this? 

The 2008 Rat is the Earth Rat, a sign of acquisition, and has a knack with money and for saving for a rainy day (Isn’t this intresting, in light of our rampant financial illiteracy and volatile market? I’m also reminded that it is China that’s financing the US occupation of Iraq and the upcoming stimulus package…). The Earth Rat also carries with it the image of a misty mountain, representing clouded perceptions and unexpected outcomes. The lesson for Rats is to see what is real, develop self-awareness and consideration of others – even to put others first. What I glean from this brief character sketch is that 2008 is a year for each of us to raise our accountability, produce better results and make a greater contribution –
by seeing through the illusions that keep us stuck in our comfort zones and by communicating more truthfully and clearly with ourselves
by extending our leadership, speaking and conversational skills
by stretching our listening, mentoring and influencing the development of others
by mastering basic financial skills, such as budgeting, saving, balancing budgets, utilizing compound interests and teaching these skills to others and by more active appreciation and consideration of our loved ones

I invite you to ask – in each of these areas – what are the actions that will move you onward and upward?  Through tapping into the power created by over a billion Chinese minds focused on the Year of the Rat, we will increase that power and be bouyed and boosted in our Rat endeavors in 2008.

-Pamela Kelly

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