Happy New Year! China welcomes Year of the Pig

Happy pig: A New Year celebration takes place in Shanghai, China.

Today, one fifth of the world’s population is celebrating the start of a new year — one that promises to bring prosperity, joy and relaxation. That is, if you believe in the Chinese zodiac…

At midnight last night, fireworks exploded across China as 1.4 billion people celebrated the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Welcome to the Year of the Pig!

Pigs are also a symbol of wealth and good fortune in Chinese culture. But beware — showering, sweeping or doing laundry today might just wash away that good luck.

Chinese astrology has been around for 5,000 years. It was originally developed to help emperors rule peacefully. Now, it is an intricate way of understanding personalities and predicting fortunes.

Unlike Western astrology, which is based on birth months, the Chinese system is based on the year that you are born. And it is serious business in China; birth rates go up and down depending on how lucky a particular year is thought to be.

Years are then broken down into 12 months, days of birth and 12 two-hour periods each day. Each has its own sign, meaning your birth chart can be very detailed.

Of course, that only matters if you believe that the position of the planets can affect your life. And most scientists are clear: they can’t. Studies show that people born within minutes of each other do not share similar traits.

Despite this, astrology is becoming more popular in the West. “It’s a tool for self-reflection, it’s not a religion or a science,” says astrologer Annabel Gat.

Lucky stars

How can we be sure that the planets do not influence our lives, ask believers? Can you really dismiss thousands of years of wisdom? After all, there is so much we still don’t know about the universe.

Does it even matter, ask others? People go to astrology in times of stress and uncertainty. It is not so much about what is true, but about helping people to make sense of their lives. It offers them advice and comfort. Is there really anything wrong with that?

You Decide

  1. Would you ever change your plans based on your horoscope?

Activities

  1. Find out more about the personality traits of your Chinese zodiac sign and discuss with the person next to you. Does it sound like you?

Some People Say...

“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy — the mad daughter of a wise mother.”

Voltaire

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
In addition to the 12-year cycle of different animals, there is also a cycle of five elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Each adds another layer of subtlety to the animal’s personality. This year is the Year of the Earth Pig.
What do we not know?
Whether there is any link between astrology, personality or the future (although, there is no scientific evidence for it).

Word Watch

1.4 billion people
The population of China, plus the roughly 50 million Chinese people living abroad.
Lunar
Unlike the Western calendar, which is based on the Sun, the Chinese year is based on the Moon.
Birth rates
For example, in 2000, Hong Kong saw a 5% increase in births. This was a dragon year, the luckiest of all 12 zodiac years.
Share
According to a 2003 study of 2,000 people born across several decades.
More popular
For example, online magazine The Cut said its horoscopes got 150% more hits in 2017 than the year before.

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