Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chinese New Year

Every year at this time, the Chinese Zodiac grabs our attention.  One year is waning and a new year is ready to slide into place between January 31 and February 4.  We are just about to leave the lucky-for-some Year of the Snake, so that the Year of the Horse can burst onto the scene and capture the limelight.

I remember being a kid and having our favorite Chinese dinner with my parents at Minnie's in Modesto.  We lived in Merced, but drove the 80-mile round trip because the food was so good and my dad was fond of the pictures that lined the walls of the bar on the way to the restroom.  All paintings of lovely young Asian women with a key part of their upper torso uncovered by the colorful kimonos they were wearing.   It was apparently a "guy thing" even for a man who brought his wife and little girl there for Chinese dinner.
While my father was ogling the pictures on the bar walls, I was fascinated with the paper place mats that revealed I was not only a Cancer according to the Astrological calendar, but also a Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac scheme of things.  How could I be both? And where did this Chinese Zodiac business come from anyway?
So ... order some Chinese take-out, grab your chop sticks (or fork if you're inept with manipulating those exotic little bamboo sticks like I am), and enjoy the story I am about to tell you.
In Ancient Times, the Chinese had developed so many things ... except a calendar.  It was time to fix that.  So the Supreme Emperor (aka King of Everything) decided to make his own calendar.  A most unique idea:  12 year-long cycles, each named after a different animal.  He decided to hold a  race across the Realm's Raging River.  Each year, for twelve years in a row, would be named after the first twelve animals in the order they reached the other side of the river.  From that point until the end of time, the Chinese would have a calendar, known as the Chinese Zodiac.  In this special calendar each animal would be featured in the same sequence and the cycle would repeat itself every twelve years.
The Supreme Emperor was very wise.  This was a very good plan.
Word spread throughout the realm and the animals all gathered at the starting line:  the Rat, Cat, Snake, Dragon, Ox, Rabbit, Monkey, Tiger, Pig, Dog, Sheep, Horse and Rooster.  The Emperor raised his arms and yelled "Go!" and there was a great rush of animals plunging into the Raging River.
If you want to find out how the story ends, simply click on "Read More" below:

At that time, the Cat and the Rat were very close friends.  Since the rat was the smarter of the two, Rat told the Cat, "Come with me.  I have a plan."  Then, they both leaped onto the back of the Ox who had just waded into the chilly waters.  Rat had already made a deal with the Ox the he could win.  The Rat and the Cat would just ride along to keep dry on the trip across the river.  Neither wanted to have a bad hair day at tonight's big Victory Celebration.
In the meantime, each animal used a different route and approach to cross the great river.  The powerful Ox plowed steadily across the water headed for the other side.
The Rabbit jumped from rock to rock so as not to get his little toes wet.
The mighty Tiger swam with powerful strokes.
Just then a raft floated by and Sheep, Monkey and Rooster all three jumped on board and headed across the river in style. 
Pig and Dog were still distracted by neat stuff on the river's edge.  Pig was wallowing in a fresh mud hole and Dog was in the water playing rather than taking the race seriously.
Snake was all wrapped up in himself, as usual, instead of formulating his plan for winning.
And the Dragon was so huge that the Emperor allowed him to "swim" through the sky rather than the Raging River.
The steady plodding of the sturdy Ox was about to pay off as he reached the other side of the river and was ready to step onto the bank and win the race.  All of a sudden, there was a commotion on his back and then a loud splash!  The Cat who had been lulled to sleep during the slow, steady crossing of the river had been pushed off the Ox's back by the Rat and plunged into the River.
Then ... as the Ox got ready to step onto land, the Rat leaped off his back and over his head ... and hit the ground at the Emperor's feet first.  The wily Rat had won the Race!
From then on, the Chinese Zodiac begins with the Year of the Rat and continues in the order the rest of the animals finished the race:  Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.  The twelve years had been named and their order established ... when the water-logged cat dragged himself out of the water ... too late to be included in the lineup.
To this day, the Cat and the Rat are mortal enemies.  The Cat is apparently serious about holding a grudge instead of just "letting it go" and forgiving the wily Rat.  It's the Cat's choice, of course.  No one can ever make a Cat do what he/she doesn't want to do.
In the meantime,  the other animals hold the place of honor for a year, always in the same order, and repeat the cycle every twelve years.  From the time of the Supreme Emperor until forever.
January 31- February 4 of this year (2014) brings The Year of the Horse, which is going to be a most dynamic and exciting year for some of us.  Great changes will take place, the focus will be on listening to your intuition rather than being bullied by others.  All the energetic and fleet of foot horses will stand by to carry those who are ready ...  into a bright shiny new future.
Are you ready?  Find your sign, based on your birth year below.
Rat: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008.  Ox:  1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009.  Tiger:  1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010.  Rabbit:  1939, 1951,1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.  Dragon:  1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012.  Snake:  1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013.  Horse:  1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014.  Sheep:  1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.  Monkey:  1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.  Rooster:  1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017.  Dog:  1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 1018. Pig:  1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019.
Chinese Zodiac Compatibility Test Results is great for looking up traits and personalities, as well as checking out a partner's suitability.
Let's use our hypothetical couple George and Martha as an example:  George is a Dragon and Martha is a Rooster.  Hmmm ... hard to imagine their compatibility.  As it turns out, the compatibility rating for them is 70% (Well Suited).  I'm sure they'd both be shocked to hear that.
It goes on to say (and I quote) "You can be a happy match, but you need to seek common ground and reserve differences, both of you and clever, capable and independent.  The Male Dragon is always full of vigor and vitality, while the Female Rooster is rational and efficient.  The Male Dragon's superiority and confidence is often punctured by the smart Female Rooster."
I'd say Martha looks like the ultimate winner of any match of wits between those two ... and the sooner George tones down his "superiority" the better off he'll be.
It's fun to look up yourself and your partner or anyone really, by going to this great website:  Travel China Guide China Zodiac Compatibility Test Results.
And ... if you want to just get blown away by the exciting promise of what could happen in The Year of the horse, click on:
May the Year of the Horse be the best one in your life.  I'm sure it will be the best one in mine!






  1. I'm a wood rabbit. Everyone is always so surprised to hear that.. :)

  2. I'm a rabbit. My daughter is a rabbit. My mother was a rabbit. My grandmother missed rabbit by one year. Oh, well.

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