Jan 26, 2018

Months and Years to Come

 

The Chinese Zodiac is a cycle of twelve years, with twelve different animals to signify each year. Today, the Chinese Zodiac has spread around the world, finding popularity among people of other nationalities. The story of the origin of the Chinese Zodiac can be found in both Mythology and History.

 

 

Mythology                                       

 

Legend has it that a long time ago, back before the age of the Chinese Zodiac, the Jade Emperor wanted to appoint animals as guards for the Heavenly gates. Once the messenger sent from Heaven had spread the news, a race began amongst the animals of the animal kingdom, each seeking to be the first to reach the gates of Heaven.

Amongst the first to arrive were a rat and an ox, as both were early risers. The rat reached first owing to his quick wit, as he jumped in the ear of the ox when they had to cross a river that lay in their way. Once they had almost reached, the rat jumped out of the ox’s ear and claimed first position. The ox came in second.

The tiger and the rabbit were third and fourth, respectively, thanks to their speed. The tiger swam across the river and the rabbit hopped on stones and a log to reach the other end.

After the tiger and rabbit came the dragon and the snake. The dragon would have flown directly to the heavens but he stopped on his way to help villagers. Therefore, he ended up fifth in the tally. The Emperor was so happy with the dragon’s good deeds that he wanted to make the dragon’s son the sixth guard, but unfortunately the son had not gone with his father that day! The cunning snake took advantage of the situation and said that the dragon had adopted him as a son. He thus came sixth.

The next duo to arrive was a horse and a goat, too modest and kind to compete. They made way for each other, and these very traits made them eligible to be the seventh and eighth guards of the heaven.

The jumping monkey, rooster, dog, and pig rounded out the dozen guards, in the same order.

 

Several different versions of this story exist in local folklore, depending on who is telling the story. Apart from the local or mythological version, there also exists the historical point of view.

 

 

History                        

 

The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac date as far back as the 5th Century BCE, during the Zhan Guo period, although the exact time when these appeared cannot be pinpointed precisely. Around 2,000 years ago, when China was under the Han Dynasty [206 BC–9 AD], the Chinese Zodiac was officially recognized for the first time. By the time of the North Zhou Dynasty [557-581 AD] it became a popular way to determine a person’s age, a practice which still exists today in polite society.

 

Historically, the Zodiac was used to count not only the years based on the animals, but also months and days. The days were broken down into chunks of two hours each, which were also identified by the same twelve animals. The practice has given way to the modern way of telling time, but the Chinese Zodiac and the Chinese Years have survived the ravages of the years.

 

The Year of the Dog

 

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In the twelve-year cycle, 2018 lies at the eleventh position, making it a year when the heavens were guarded by the dog, or Earth Dog. Along with the 12 distinct animals, there are also five different elements that rotate with the years. These elements belong to the school of Feng Shui, determining certain characteristics of every person born under them, and how a particular year will impact each individual. These elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Gold (Metal) and Water. As an example, an Earth Dog year repeats only after sixty years. The Chinese New Year will fall on February 16, 2018.

 

Predictions for ‘Dog’ People in the Year to Come

 

 

Earth Dog Year 2018 holds a lot of promise and exhaustion for people born under the dog sign. This year will be packed, and though it will be full of highs, it will be tiring too. It’s going to be a good year financially, but health takes a back seat. Give it some extra care. Earth Dog Year is going to be a very good year for people born under all signs, other than the Ox, Rabbit, and Dragon signs, who might need to be a little more careful with their ventures.

 

Chinese Zodiac in Other Countries

 

Several other countries in Asia and beyond follow the Chinese Zodiac. They do not necessarily refer to the Cycle as the Chinese Zodiac, but the signs remain largely the same. These include the Korean Zodiac, the Japanese Zodiac, the Cham Zodiac, the Thai Zodiac and the Vietnamese Zodiac, and show minor variations between Zodiacs. For instance, in the Korean Zodiac the sheep replaces the goat and in the Japanese Zodiac sheep replaces goat and a wild boar replaces a pig. The popularity of the Chinese Zodiac is only growing, especially in the West, where stamps saying ‘Year of the _____’ get printed every year in honour of the specific Chinese New Year.

 

 

As the whole world gears up to welcome the Chinese New Year, the people of mainland China and Hong Kong will be busy with the preparations in which the predictions for the upcoming year also make a major part. Since the year of the Dog is predicted to be a positive one for almost everyone, it will definitely spell good news and an atmosphere of celebrity and positivity! Plan a wonderful New Year’s Day… and Happy New Year!

 

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