The Chinese zodiac: An interesting cultural symbol

The Chinese zodiac: An interesting cultural symbol

BEIJING, Feb. 14, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on the Chinese zodiac:

With the arrival of the Spring Festival tomorrow, we will enter the Year of the Dog. You may ask, "But isn't this year 2018?" Both are right as 2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese zodiac, an interesting classification scheme assigning an animal to each year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar involving a repetitive 12-year cycle following this order – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

The Chinese zodiac system derived from the traditional Chinese calendar, which reckoned the years, months and hours by dividing the celestial circle into 12 sections, called the 12 Earthly Branches. Some parts of the Western zodiac also assign animal labels, and, similarly, each of the 12 Earthly Branches follows the same association.

Why were these particular 12 animals chosen to represent the years? The origins lie in the fact that primitive society viewed various animals as a totem, the protector of their tribe. Some of the animals were domesticated for economic purposes, while some were worshiped by our distant ancestors.

There are many stories and fables to explain the beginning of the Chinese zodiac, and the explanation offered here is just one of the popular variations. The Chinese zodiac is a mysterious and interesting cultural symbol, and many cultural meanings have been attached to the 12 animals represented. For example, the Rat, which leads off the 12-year cycle, symbolizes wealth, because only households with abundant grain could attract rats in olden times. Unlike in Western culture, the Dragon is the god of clouds and rain in Chinese legends. Therefore, as a symbol of majesty and good fortune, the Dragon enjoys wide popularity among Chinese people.

As the Lunar New Year draws near, the zodiac animal of that particular year will also become a popular mascot, be worked into various designs and made into a variety of souvenirs for the celebrations. In addition to China, many other countries and regions also celebrate Spring Festival in the same way. Here are some examples.

On January 15, Canada Post released a two-stamp set to mark the Year of the Dog, which includes both permanent domestic- and international-rate stamp booklets and a broad selection of philatelic collectibles. 

In Russia, a calendar featuring President Vladimir Putin posing with dogs of various shapes and sizes were issued.

What is more, many international name brand companies have designed and launched Lunar New Year-related products with global limited editions. All this shows that the Chinese zodiac culture has been understood and accepted by an increasing number of peoples around the world.

The zodiac culture is also popular in some other Asian countries. However, whether in China or elsewhere, the twelve zodiac signs represent a special affectionate relationship between humanity and animals.

Nowadays, people seldom make a thorough inquiry into the origin of the zodiac any more, but the harmonious relationship between human and nature will continue, along with the meaning of auspiciousness, bravery, prosperity and peace, which the zodiac animals imply.

Tomorrow is the Lunar New Year's Day. Wish you a very Happy New Year!

China Mosaic
http://www.china.org.cn/video/node_7230027.htm
The Chinese zodiac: An interesting cultural symbol
http://www.china.org.cn/video/2018-02/14/content_50494836.htm

About China.org.cn

Founded in 2000, China Internet Information Center (China.org.cn/China.com.cn) is a key state news website under the auspices of the State Council Information Office, and is managed by China International Publishing Group. We provide round-the-clock news service in ten languages. With users from more than 200 countries and regions, we have become China's leading multi-lingual news outlet introducing the country to the outside world.

We are one of the country's authoritative outlets for government press releases and are authorized to cover various major events. "Live Webcast" is our online webcasting service to present State Council Information Office press conferences in both Chinese and English languages. We are reputed for timely and accurate delivery of news and information, and wide interactions with audiences. In addition, we are authorized to publish and live broadcast major events and press conferences of ministries, local government agencies and institutions as well as enterprises.

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In the future, CIIC will continue to offer authoritative information about China, tell China's stories, voice China's opinions, and introduce a vivid, panoramic and multicultural China to the world through multi-language, multi-media and multi-platforms.

Contact: pr@china.org.cn

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