Union the power for peace

The Chinese New Year of the White Metal Rat Starts 25 January

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The stars are supposed to exert an influence on Chinese lives so it is not surprising that they are honored early in the year.

The 12 Chinese zodiac animals are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

When the Jade Emperor called the animals, all who heard the Emperor’s decree wanted to be first in line. Cat and Rat were supposed to go together. But, Cat overslept because Rat had slipped something into its dinner the night before.

Chinese Zodiac

The next morning Rat bumped into Ox and the pair struck up a deal, Ox said he would carry rat but rat must sing for him so he could go quicker. Rat stood on his hind legs put his paws on his head and started singing. Ox arrived at the finish line ahead of all the animals, Then Rat jumped down in front of Ox, arriving first.

Tiger and Rabbit arrived soon after. Dragon could’ve made it earlier, but he was obliged to save a village from a flood. Snake arrived at the same time, but he was too small to be seen at first. Horse and Goat journeyed together, but Horse was somewhat faster.

Monkey, Rooster, and Dog arrived at the same time after helping a god in another country. Pig’s home was destroyed by a wolf so he had to rebuild it before joining the race again,

And that’s how the12 animals arrived at the Jade Emperor’s palace.

The rat in Chinese is called “old mouse” or “big mouse.”

The rat is also linked with money. It is said if you hear a rat scratching at night, it’s counting its money.  Funnily enough, a miser is  referred to as aMoney rat.”

Rats are also thought to get married and during these days it’s believed that they should be left in peace.

It’s ancient custom to be indulgent to mice and rats for one night of the year. In most parts of China, it is the 3rd day of the New Year, but it may also be the 19th day (or the 3rd or the 7th of the twelfth lunar month). Some people leave grains of rice or kitchen scraps lying about for them, and there is no attempt to keep them out of any part of the house. Sometimes, even today, people (especially children) go to bed early so as not to disturb them. Photo: ucsd.edu

Although rat can bring good fortune in the form of bringing rice, rat, like the fox can also turn evil and bring disaster.

In some Peking markets, some people used to bring mice to perform tricks at New Year.

These colorful Chinese myths are only the tip of the iceberg. Many many more intriguing traditions and features surrounding the Chinese New Year exist in the ancient texts.

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