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Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is marked at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar.

This year, we farewell the year of the pig and welcome the year of the rat. In the Chinese Zodiac, the rat symbolises intelligence, agility and a quick wit.

Chinese New Year is a time to spend with family and friends, and celebrate with food and festivities.

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What's happening for Chinese New Year in WA

There are celebrations and festivals happening across Western Australia, including the hugely popular Perth Chinese New Year Fair to be held in Northbridge on Saturday 2 February.

Information about what's happening is available on the OMI calendar.

So why the rat?

Every year is marked by a different animal in the Chinese Zodiac.

According to folk lore, the order of the 12 Chinese zodiacs animals came from the results of a race instigated by the Jade Emperor, the emperor in heaven.

Despite its short legs, the Rat got to first place by tricking the Ox into giving it a ride to cross the river, but then overtook the Ox to the finish line at the last minute! Apparently, the Cat was originally hitching a ride on the Ox's back too, but was startled by the Rat's sudden move and fell into the river, missing out on getting a place in the top 12 altogether. That is why to this day, the Cat still holds a grudge against the Rat!

The cycle repeats every 12 years, and this year, being the year of the rat, marks the beginning of a new cycle.

Each sign is said to influence the character of those born in that year. Read below about each animal and the characteristics they represent: 

  • ​Rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)
    Those born in the Year of the Rat are intelligent and agile, with a quick wit.
  • Ox (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)
    Those born in the Year of the Ox are hardworking, strong, and firm.
  • Tiger (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)
    Those born in the Year of the Tiger are brave, ambitious, and confident.
  • Rabbit (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)
    Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are gentle, caring, and kind.
  • Dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)
    Those born in the Year of the Dragon are energetic, perfectionist, and are born leaders.
  • Snake (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)
    Those born in the Year of the Snake are mysterious, alert, and careful.
  • Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)
    Those born in the Year of the Horse are active, nimble, and enthusiastic.
  • Goat (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)
    Those born in the Year of the Goat are sociable, filial, and gentle externally but firm internally.
  • Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)
    Those born in the Year of the Monkey are clever, flexible, and are limelight seekers.
  • Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017)
    Those born in the Year of the Rooster are articulate, frank and fashionable.
  • Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018)
    Those born in the Year of the Dog are loyal, brave, and friendly.
  • Pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019)
    Those born in the Year of the Pig are easy-going, generous, and relaxed. 

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Page reviewed 20 August 2020