By Caitlyn Chun


What exactly is the Chinese zodiac and how did it come about?


The Chinese zodiac, sometimes referred to as Shengxiao (生肖, which literally translates as “born resembling”), is a cycle that lasts for a total of 12 years, and each year is attributed to a different animal. It starts with the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Goat, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog, and the Pig. These are the 12 animals, listed in order.


Myths have it that the twelve animals that make up the Chinese zodiac were chosen through a competition open to all of the animals at the time. In order to win, the animals had to make it across a swift-moving river and arrive at the finish line on the shore. The winners of the first twelve places in the race will be picked to symbolize every twelve years of the Chinese zodiac.


The Chinese zodiac year 2023 is the fourth year of the cycle. Since the Rabbit represents the fourth zodiacal animal in China. Hence, 2023 is the Water Rabbit’s year. To the Chinese, the Rabbit represents long life, harmony, and good fortune. Consequently, the Chinese believe that 2023 will be a year of hope.


But it’s not just the Chinese who celebrate this holiday. Koreans and many others do as well! What New Year customs do you know of or practice?