Chinese New Year – Year of the Metal Ox

It is the time of the year again where the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year, aka Lunar New Year. It’s called “Lunar New Year” because it is based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Chinese also call it the “Spring Festival”. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar, and the celebrations end with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day.

The 12 Zodiac Signs in Chinese

There are 12 different Zodiac Signs in Chinese, they are:

Rat
People born in the years:
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Ox
People born in the years:
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Tiger
People born in the years:
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Rabbit
People born in the years:
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Dragon
People born in the years:
1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Snake
People born in the years:
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Horse
People born in the years:
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Goat
People born in the years:
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Monkey
People born in the years:
1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Rooster
People born in the years:
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Dog
People born in the years:
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Pig
People born in the years:
1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

2021 is the year of the “metal” ox.

How to Wish Someone a Happy New Year in Chinese

Year of the Metal Ox

新年快乐
Xīnnián kuàilè
Happy New Year

“Xīnnián kuàilè” is a great way to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese. It is a formal greeting typically used for strangers.

新年好
Xīnnián hǎo
Happy New Year

This phrase tends to get used for friends and family.

过年好
Guònián hǎo
Pass the New Year well!

过年好 also means “Happy Lunar New Year.” This is a traditional and informal way to greet people during the Chinese New Year period. We made a couple of videos about 过 guò and how it means “to celebrate” here and here.

And if you want to know how to say thank you in reply to someone wishing you a Happy New Year, read this post.

The Zodiac Sign Race

The story goes that the Jade Emperor organized a race that invited all the animals in the world to take part in it.

Twelve animals turned up for the race: a horse, a dog, a rooster, a monkey, a goat, a snake, a dragon, a rabbit, a pig, a tiger, a rat, and an ox.

Emperor Jade named a year in the Zodiac calendar after each one of those animals as a reward for turning up, while the race would determine the order each animal would be placed in.

In First And Second Place

The course included a vast river that every creature, large or small, had to cross.

The exhausted rat used its cunningness to persuade the kind ox to let it sit on its head as it crossed the river. But rather than saying thank you on the other side, the rat dashed to the finish with the ox not far behind.
That’s why the rat is the first creature in the Zodiac, followed by the ox.

Third, Fourth, And Fifth Place

The strong current in the river sent the tiger a little off-course. However, the tiger recovered enough to cross the line behind the ox and is number three in the Chinese Zodiac calendar.

Next up was the rabbit. Also exhausted by the race, it saved itself with a floating log and finished in the fourth position.

The dragon is the only mythical animal on the Zodiac calendar.
Being a kinder animal than legend suggests, it didn’t hesitate to divert from the race to extinguish a fire that was endangering some nearby villagers’ lives.

Once the dragon returned to the race, it saw the rabbit struggling in the water and blew it safely to the other side.
The rabbit never knew who came to its aid while the dragon was content to finish in the fifth position.

Sixth and Seventh Zodiac

The horse was directly behind the dragon and thought the sixth place was in the bag. However, it hadn’t noticed that the snake wrapped itself around the horse’s leg to hitch a ride to the other side.
After seeing the finish line, the snake uncoiled itself and gave the horse a scare, enough to slither into the sixth position, leaving its carrier, the horse, to take the seventh place.

Zodiac Eight, Nine, And Ten

Next up were the goat, the monkey, and the rooster, which is a perfect example of teamwork.
The three animals piloted a small raft that would get them across the river safely.
Once they arrived on the other side, it was a dash for the finish.

The goat finished in the eighth position, followed by the monkey being number nine and the rooster finished as the tenth animal in the Zodiac calendar.

The Last Two Animals

Now only two animals were left in the race. Dog owners know how playful a dog can be. Instead of crossing the river, it was more interested in splashing about in the water.

This enabled the first ten animals to finish before it. But it eventually continued the race and finished in 11th place, which leaves the pig as the last animal.

The pig got hungry during the race, so it decided to stop for food. It then became sleepy and dozed off. After a while, it did wake up and managed to make it over the line in the last place. The Emperor had almost given up on the pig but was happy to give it the final space in the zodiac calendar.

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