The Chinese New Year displays of the God of Wealth (财神 Cai Shen) and the Chinese Zodiac animals in dazzling lights at the Ang Mo Kio AMK Hub.
The Shēngxiào (Chinese: 生肖), better known in English as the Chinese Zodiac, is a scheme that relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes, according to a 12-year mathematical cycle. It has wide currency in several East Asian countries such as Korea and Japan. Identifying this scheme using the term "zodiac" reflects several similarities to the Western zodiac: both have time cycles divided into 12 parts, each labels at least the majority of those parts with names of animals, and each is widely associated with a culture of attributing influence of a person's relationship to the cycle upon their personality and/or events in their life.
Background music: Chinese New Year (CNY) Song 恭喜! 恭喜! (read as Gong Xi Gong Xi ) with courtesy of Nicholas Lim Trio.
Click on the following link to see Nicholas Lim Trio in action:
The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat, and there are many stories about the origins of the Chinese Zodiac which explain why this is so (see below). The following are the twelve zodiac signs (each with its associated Earthly branch) in order.
1. Rat -- 鼠 (子) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Water)
2. Ox -- 牛 (丑) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Water)
3. Tiger -- 虎 (寅) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
4. Rabbit -- 兔 or 兎 (卯)(Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
5. Dragon -- 龍 / 龙 (辰) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Wood)
6. Snake -- 蛇 (巳) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
7. Horse -- 馬 / 马 (午) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
8. Goat -- 羊 (未) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Fire)
9. Monkey -- 猴 (申) (Yang, 1st Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
10. Rooster -- 雞 / 鸡 (酉) (Yin, 2nd Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
11. Dog -- 狗 / 犬 (戌) (Yang, 3rd Trine, Fixed Element Metal)
12. Pig -- 豬 / 猪 (亥) (Yin, 4th Trine, Fixed Element Water)
In Chinese astrology the animal signs assigned by year represent what others perceive you as being or how you present yourself. It is a common misconception that the animals assigned by year are the only signs and many western descriptions of Chinese astrology draw solely on this system. In fact, there are also animal signs assigned by month (called inner animals), by day (called true animals) and hours (called secret animals).
While a person might appear to be a Dragon because they were born in the year of the Dragon, they might also be a Snake internally, an Ox truly and Sheep secretively. In total, this makes for 103,680 possible combinations (60 year cycle (5 elements × 12 animals) × 12 months × 12 days × 12 periods of the day) that a person might be. These are all considered critical for the proper use of Chinese astrology.
Due to confusion with synonyms during translation, some of the animals depicted by the English words did not exist in ancient China. For example, 羊 can mean Ram, Goat or Sheep. Similarly, 鼠 (Rat) can also be translated as Mouse, as there are no distinctive words for the two genera in Chinese. Further, 豬 (Pig) is sometimes translated to Boar after its Japanese name, and 牛 plainly means Cow or Ox, and not Water Buffalo. Water Buffalo is 水牛。