Yesterday was the Chinese New Year, the most important of traditional Chinese festivals. You think of the dragon dancing in the parade, Chinese lanterns and red envelopes. I always look up what’s next in the Chinese zodiac.
This year is the 30th year in the Chinese 60 year cycle. It’s the year of the Water Snake. The five elements of the earth are very important in traditional Chinese mythology, and they have a 12 animal zodiac that corresponds with each year. The Yin and Yang also play a role in the Chinese New Year.
You can see a little bit about this in this table via Wikipedia:
“This table shows the stem/branch year names, correspondences to the Western (Gregorian) calendar, and other related information for the current decade. (These years are all part of the 79th sexagenary cycle, or the 78th if an epoch of 2637 BC is accepted.) Or see this larger table of the full 60-year cycle.”
|Gānzhī (干支)||Year of the…
|New Year’s Day
|15||5/3||wùyín (戊寅)||Earth Tiger||4696||1998||January 28|
|16||6/4||jǐmǎo (己卯)||Earth Rabbit||4697||1999||February 16|
|17||7/5||gēngchén (庚辰)||Metal Dragon||4698||2000||February 5|
|18||8/6||xīnsì (辛巳)||Metal Snake||4699||2001||January 24|
|19||9/7||rénwǔ (壬午)||Water Horse||4700||2002||February 12|
|20||10/8||guǐwèi (癸未)||Water Goat||4701||2003||February 1|
|21||1/9||jiǎshēn (甲申)||Wood Monkey||4702||2004||January 22|
|22||2/10||yǐyǒu (乙酉)||Wood Rooster||4703||2005||February 9|
|23||3/11||bǐngxū (丙戌)||Fire Dog||4704||2006||January 29|
|24||4/12||dīnghài (丁亥)||Fire Pig||4705||2007||February 18|
|25||5/1||wùzǐ (戊子)||Earth Rat||4706||2008||February 7|
|26||6/2||jǐchǒu (己丑)||Earth Ox||4707||2009||January 26|
|27||7/3||gēngyín (庚寅)||Metal Tiger||4708||2010||February 14|
|28||8/4||xīnmǎo (辛卯)||Metal Rabbit||4709||2011||February 3|
|29||9/5||rénchén (壬辰)||Water Dragon||4710||2012||January 23|
What intrigues me about the Chinese zodiac is just the differences and similarities with other calendars that we are more familiar with. We have our own astrological zodiac that I’m sure most people have heard of in Western culture. (I’m a Sagittarius.) Both the Chinese zodiac and the Western zodiac attach significance to a person’s date and time of birth. However, the Chinese place more emphasis on lunar phases and on birth years, whereas western culture places more emphasis on solar phases and the month a person is born. (Here’s a pretty good crash course in the differences between the two. I like this site, too.)
What I’m most interested in, though, is how many of these types of calendars, zodiacs, and other methods of tracking spans of time that have been developed over the years of human existence. Some writers have developed their own as well, in their fiction books. All have their own traditions, specifics, etc., along with the people (and fanatics) who follow them. I enjoy learning about all of these, seeing their differences and similarities and what people have come up with for characteristics of these signs.
How well do you match up with your sign, in both zodiacs? What other zodiacs or calendars do you know of or enjoy learning about? Do you have a favorite created by a fiction author?