Fetching for Fortune


photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license

Dragons parading in a Chinese New Year Festival

On January 25, 2020, people all over the globe will celebrate the coming of a new year as the lunar calendar returns back to the beginning. It is a chance to clean out any lingering negative energies and prepare for what the new year will bring. 

The Chinese Zodiac is commonly used to predict one’s fortune. It is a twelve year cycle that analyzes people’s personalities and how it will affect their life. Every year is represented by an animal that has deep connections to ancient Chinese beliefs. According to Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor held a race to find which twelve animals of the Earth possessed the best qualifications as his palace guard. The animals used their own specialties such as wit, bravery and kindness to win the Jade Emperor’s favor. 

This year the Zodiac cycles back to the rat who finished first in the race. People born in the year of the rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020) tend to be optimistic and energetic. They might come off as impolite and rude, but that is only because they are bad at first impressions. Rats can also be sensitive and stubborn, especially over money and possessions. 

The second animal, the ox (people born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021), is known to be honest and hardworking. They do not like to be the center of attention and prefer to be recognized for their hard work, not talent. Many people rely on oxen to be responsible for their own work, and oxen expect the same in return. 

Third in order is the Tiger (people born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022) who is territorial and possessive. They command respect from others and are hard to control. Tigers can be great leaders but have to be careful of their overconfidence. 

The rabbit (people born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023) is quiet and, unlike the story of the tortoise and the hare, is always steadily moving toward its goal. Rabbits want life to go smoothly so they tend to diminish problems while they are still small. They are also very sensitive and emotional. 

The fifth year is the year of the dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024) which is a symbol of strength and passion. Dragons are full of life and have the confidence to pursue their ambitious goals. They can be perfectionists and put unrealistic expectations on others.

The year of the snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025) follows after the year of the dragon because snakes are miniature dragons. They have a sophisticated and graceful aura around them but are easily overtaken by jealousy. Many people distrusts snakes even though snakes are usually right in the end. 

The seventh year is the year of the horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026) which is centered around happiness. People born on a horse year are lively and strong. They sometimes move too quickly for the people around them which causes horses to forget things easily and become blind to their own faults. Horses are also very good at handling money. 

The goat year (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027) is eighth in order. Goats are the most feminine of the zodiacs with a love for animals, children and nature. They have a high tolerance for all of life’s circumstances and always put others before themselves. Goats do not like to make decisions and often go with the flow. 

The next zodiac is the Monkey (people born in 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016). Monkeys like to be praised by people for their intelligence and problem solving skills. They can be arrogant and disrespectful, but in the end, just like to have a good competition. 

Rooster comes in the tenth year (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017) and is straightforward and serious. With values aligned with logical reasoning and traditions, roosters surround themselves with a large family they can debate with. Roosters also worry over their outer appearance.

The most important quality of the eleventh zodiac, the dog (people born in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018), is loyalty. Dogs never abandon people and always give genuine advice. While they enjoy helping out others, they often forget about taking care of themselves. Handling too many people’s problems can be stressful. 

The end of the zodiac cycle is the pig (people born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019). Pigs are realistic and have a passion to earn their rights through action. They like to enjoy life and can be extremely materialistic, which causes them to work harder. 

The twelve animals all have their own personality traits that are found in humans. People’s personalities are based on a variety of factors such as their genes, environment and subconscious. Although not scientifically proven, zodiacs are a system used to possibly predetermine a person’s personality based on their birth date. 

Mrs. Keener, a psychology teacher, believes zodiacs are a way for people to explain why they are the way they are. There are many unexplained phenomenons in life; zodiacs can be used as a justification for making superstitious, but baseless, decisions such as what color brings luck or how to arrange one’s house. 

Leo Wang, a junior who was born in the year of the sheep, states, “It’s all luck,” inferring that people’s personalities are all based on chance. No one is born destined to fulfill a role, but life is full of coincidences. 

People’s interest in believing zodiacs are explained by the Barnum effect.

“People want to know what their future holds because they are not satisfied with the present. They want an explanation for the events in their life,” says Keener. 

There is just enough truth in zodiacs that makes them believable. 

Caitlyn Scott, a senior born in the year of the snake, provides an explanation that, “People are a combination of all the animals, and they pick and choose which personality they think best suits themselves.” 

Whether the trajectory of the year has already been decided or not, there is no room for regrets and time will always continue to move onward. Happy Chinese New Year!