Lunar New Year: Year of the Ox

Lunar New Year: Year of the Ox

Happy (early) Lunar New Year! Since ancient times, people have looked to the skies to understand the world. In fact, many Asian cultures like China, Korea, and Vietnam still use the lunar calendar as a major indication of events and holidays. For those of you who didn’t know, it’s officially the Year of the Ox. That’s right ‘61, ‘73, ‘85, and ‘97ers, it’s your year to shine! Just as we have 12 zodiac signs for each month, many Asian cultures have adopted the 12 revolving Chinese zodiac signs for each year. Read more about Lunar New Year and its relationship with astrology and zodiac signs below!

What is Lunar New Year?

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Lunar New Year marks the first full moon of the new year according to the lunar (or more specifically, lunisolar) calendar. Festivals usually celebrate the whole moon cycle, starting from the first new moon and ending with the first full moon.  In Korea, Lunar New Year is called “Seollal.” Considered one of the most important events of the year, Seollal is a time when everyone goes back to their hometown and reunites with their entire family to prepare for the festivities and rituals. Wearing the ancient, traditional garb of Korea (the hanbok), families prepare an immense amount of food for the ancestral rites and celebration. It’s vital to pay your respect to your ancestors, tidy their graves, offer them food and drinks, and deeply bow to them (jeol).  It’s also common practice to deeply bow to your elders as well, called sebae. Typically, elders prepare little envelopes or little traditional bags of “pocket money” once you’ve bowed, called sebaet-don. (You don’t have to tell me to bow twice!) Ultimately, Seollal is a  heartwarming, and joyous day of celebration with your family, not unlike the States! Watch this YouTube video for Seollal in action! 

Chinese Zodiac Calendar

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As we mentioned earlier, this year is the Year of the Ox. Many Asian countries like Korea derived their Zodiac System and Lunisolar Calendar from China, with minor variations depending on the culture. For example, while China and Vietnam use the Goat zodiac sign, Korea uses the sheep in its place; while China and Korea use the rabbit, Vietnam uses the cat. Regardless, this Asian zodiac system uses the rounded 11.85-year orbital duration of Jupiter, where each year corresponds to an animal. Thus, it has nothing to do with constellations.  Locate your birth year above and find your animal sign! For more information about characteristics and traits attributed to each animal, watch this video.

The Great Race

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While there are many, many theories about the origin of the Chinese zodiac system, the most widely known one is the story of “The Great Race.” While there are many variations of the myth, the story essentially goes like this: the Jade Emperor, ruler of the Heavens, decided to organize a race in order to measure time. The Emperor decreed that the first 12 animals that crossed the finish line would earn a spot on the zodiac calendar.  In order to reach the finish line, there was also a river that the animals had to cross. Given the task, some animals relied on their physical strength and stature while others had to use their intellect or request for help. The 12 animals, each with their unique attributes, crossed the finish line in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and lastly, pig. Bam! The creation of the Zodiac calendar! (Or so the story goes.) Watch “The Great Race” in this video!

Your Fortune This Year

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Happy Year of the Ox! 2nd of the 12 zodiac signs, the ox only made 2nd because of its compassion. The rat asked the ox if it would help the rat cross the river, and the ox ended up carrying the rat through the currents, allllll the way across the river. However, as they neared the edge of the river, the rat suddenly duped the ox by jumping over the ox’s body. It immediately crossed the finish line, leaving the ox in 2nd place. 

Ox Positive Characteristics: Honest, Dedicated, Low Key, Persistent, Sympathetic, Cautious, Logical, Patient, Faithful, Firm, Self-Made, Fair, Great Leader, Intelligent, Inspires Confidence in Others

Ox Negative Characteristics: Stubborn, Overthinks, Opinionated or Indifferent, Narrow-Minded, Can’t Adapt Well, Lack of Flexibility, Too Strict or Routine, Doesn’t Like Challenges or Failure

Ox Fortune: Well, oxen, it’s your time to shine this year!! Characterized by honesty, hard work, and dedication, the ox will finally receive rewards for the meticulous effort it always puts in. Try focusing on your relationships, since you’re especially auspicious in that area. Although you do have a bumpy road ahead of you, you’ll eventually break through each of your challenges if you stay firm as you always have and charge on. Because of this unique ability to stay grounded while moving onward, ox zodiac signs will positively develop one way or the other. Whether it’s learning from failure, or coming out of a challenge with a big win and even more reward, you’ll be able to put all of the lessons to good use and come out the other side regardless of the level of difficulty. 

Drawbacks:  Unfortunately, there is a turbulent year ahead of you. This means you may face many challenges that leave you emotionally exhausted. But do not fear! Use that steady, persistent drive that you’ve got in you, and break through. It’ll also be good to take extreme caution with some of your endeavors this year. If you find yourself in hot waters, remember to do your best to quickly adjust to the situation and USE. YOUR. STRENGTHS. Though you may feel overwhelmed and start getting in your own head, remember to take a step back, calm yourself, and take advantage of your logical side. Assess the situation. Then, patiently and confidently put your hard work into it, and you’re sure to find a way out. 

For the Rest of Us: We should all lean into our more ox-like traits this year. For those who are vastly different from the ox, try to cultivate and introduce yourself to ox qualities that you normally don’t lean into. This year, everyone will benefit from grounding themselves in difficult situations and realizing that the way forward is to keep pushing forward. When luck isn’t on our side, our hard work always is. Don’t give up! It might also be fruitful to commit to a long-term, steady-paced endeavor, even if it’s just starting the planning progress.