Today (1 February), marks the Lunar New Year, a two-week celebration and the most important holiday for billions of people in China and around the world.
During the festival, homes are festooned with red paper lanterns and families gather to share sumptuous feasts, enjoying symbolic dishes such as dumplings and noodles.
Each year on the Chinese calendar is linked to one of 12 zodiac animals, each with their own specific characteristics, similar to how each month of the Gregorian calendar is linked to a zodiac in other countries.
This year, celebrations will herald the Year of the Tiger.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What is the Chinese zodiac?
“Unlike the Western zodiac, which is based on 12 months, the Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle with each year being attributed to a representative animal,” says astrologist Julie Chandler of soul-focus.co.uk.
The zodiac system has existed in Chinese culture for more than 2,000 years, and over time, has become more ingrained in daily life, having meanings and characteristics assigned to each animal.
“Those born under that animal are said to embody their characteristics and it’s taken very seriously in China,” says Chandler, “to the point of babies being planned to coincide with the traditionally luckiest year, that of the Dragon, and avoid the unluckier year of the Goat.”
The twelve animals are:
The cycle is based on an old folk tale called the Great Race, in which all twelve animals take part in a race to reach the Jade Emperor - the order they completed the race is the order in which the years are named.
The Rat won out against the bigger animals by catching a ride on the back of the Ox and then jumping off its back at the last minute.
This means the Ox, who had been due to win the race, had to settle for second place and the others fill in the places behind, with the Pig coming last.
Which Chinese Zodiac animal am I?
A quick google will tell you whether you’re a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, or pig.
However, we’ve grouped together the recent years on which each animal fell for even easier reference:
- Rat - 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
- Ox - 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
- Tiger - 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
- Rabbit - 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
- Dragon - 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
- Snake - 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
- Horse - 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
- Goat - 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
- Monkey - 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
- Rooster - 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
- Dog - 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
- Pig - 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031
What does the Year of the Tiger mean?
If your age is a multiple of 12 this year, you fall under the Tiger sign, known to be king of all beasts in China.
People born in the Year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, unpredictable, and confident. Confident, charming and well liked, they sometimes possess a stubborn personality too.
The Year of the Tiger previously fell in 2010, 1986, 1974, 1962, and so on.
“The Year of the Tiger will carry the qualities of the Chinese tiger sign throughout the year,” says astrologer Inbaal Honigman. “This year is therefore likely to be another fiery year!”
People born in a tiger year will “feel right at home during their birth year – the energies outside will match their reality on the inside,” she continues.
“They’ll enjoy whatever challenges the year might throw at them.”
However, one should also be wary of being quick to celebrate if the Year of the Tiger is “your” year.
According to Chinese astrology, the year you are born is supposed to be the unluckiest for you, so people born in previous Tiger years may face bad luck in 2022.
Edgar Lok Tin Yung, a Feng Shui expert and astrologer based in Australia, has said that Tigers will face “big pressure from every direction” at work.
Women born in 1986 and 1998 are also warned to “take care of your love life”.
Tigers working in the media, education, publication, and training sectors “will have a very good year to come,” Yung added.
However, they could also be hit by health conditions to their arms, gallbladder, hairs, nerves, and lungs, he said.
What about people who weren’t born in a tiger year?
As for the other 11 Chinese zodiac signs, they may struggle more in 2022.
“Tiger energies are very focused, determined and geared towards achievement,” says Honigman. “If you’re not used to thinking on your feet – expect the unexpected!
“Other active signs, such as Horses and Dragons, will find their feet very easily. The more home-loving signs, like Rabbits and Goats, will want to remain quiet until they’ve figured out the lay of the land.”
Who are some famous Tigers?
Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo and partner Georgina Rodriguez are preparing to welcome twins in 2022 so both will be Tigers.
Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott are also expecting their second child this year – another 2022 Tiger.
Other famous tigers include Shawn Mendes, Jaden Smith and Elle Fanning – all born in 1998 - while Drake, Lady Gaga and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are all 1986 Tigers.
Meanwhile, Victoria Beckham, Leonardo DiCaprio, Olivia Colman, Matt Lucas, Dominic Raabn and Bear Grylls are all Tigers born in 1974.
Eddie Izzard, Phillip Schofield and Demi Moore were all born in 1962 while Princess Anne, Stevie Wonder and Bill Murray are 1950 Tigers.
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