Saturday, September 30, 2023

Have a bunny new year

| January 24, 2023 1:00 AM

Xin (“shin”) nian kuai-le, you cuddly rabbits.

Seems late for happy new year wishes, but in certain Asian and Asian-American cultures, Sunday kicked off the Year of the Water Rabbit and at least in China, they’re still celebrating. They’re not the only ones in the midst of a lunar new year festival this week; so are South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Vietnam — and at least some of our 22 million Asian-American citizens.

Just for fun, let’s explore this rabbit thing.

In Chinese astrology, everyone has an animal associated with their lunar birth year — 12 animals for each 12-year cycle. That’s repeated five times for a full 60-year cycle, which then starts over. Those five repetitions represent fire, water, wood, earth and metal. All of this, much like in Western astrology, is believed to influence both personality and life events.

Moon phases don’t correspond exactly with the Gregorian calendar, which starts Jan. 1, so some January and February birthdays are ascribed to the prior year’s animal. For 2023, the lunar year began Jan. 22. Last year’s was Feb. 1. Next year it will start Feb. 10.

While the Chinese zodiac calendar wasn’t implemented until 2600 B.C.E. by Emperor Huang Ti, its traditions trace several thousand years earlier, to Buddha. Legend has it Buddha called animals to his deathbed. The 12 who showed up became the zodiac animals of Chinese astrology.

Like Western counterparts, Chinese astrologists believe birth year tremendously influences personality, each animal sign corresponding with particular character traits. Each person also has an “inner animal” based on birth month, as well as “true” and “secret” animals for the day and hour. Animal signs are used in feng shui; practitioners believe that how your space is individually ordered and balanced impacts how you feel.

There’s also yin and yang with each sign — two natural, complementary yet contradictory forces in the universe. A sort of necessary duality. Yin symbolizes earth, femaleness, darkness, passivity and absorption. Yang is light, masculinity, activity and the heavens. Ideally, these aspects are balanced in each person, object and the world, like the yinyang symbol.

To determine your outer animal, or how you appear to the world, use birth year (be mindful of start date for January and February birthdays). Your inner animal, how you see yourself, is based on birth month, with date ranges listed below:

Rabbit — It’s your year! March 6 to April 5. Yin. To outsiders, rabbits’ sweet natures make them seem soft or weak, but Chinese astrology holds that behind that quiet exterior lies confidence and strength. Rabbits are considered articulate, talented, ambitious, and self-controlled. Born 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023. Their lucky numbers are 3, 4 and 9. Lucky colors: Red, pink, purple, blue. Best matches: Sheep, pig, dog. Avoid rats and dragons.

Dragon — April 6 to May 5. Yang. Healthy, energetic, inspire confidence, eccentric and stubborn. Born: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012. Lucky numbers: 1, 7, 6. Lucky colors: Gold, silver, light gray. Best matches: Rat, monkey, rooster. Avoid oxen, rabbits and dogs.

Snake — May 6 to June 5. Yin. Thinker, financially well-off, intense, good-looking, but may be vain. Born 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013. Lucky numbers: 2, 8, 9. Lucky colors: Red, light yellow, black. Best matches: Ox, rooster. Avoid tigers and pigs.

Horse — June 6 to July 5. Yang. Popular, cheerful, talkative, independent, impatient. 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014. Lucky numbers: 2, 3, 7. Lucky colors: Brown, yellow, purple. Best matches: Tiger, sheep, dog. Avoid rats, oxen and rabbits.

Sheep/goat — July 6 to Aug. 5. Yin. Diplomatic, communicative, compassionate, elegant in appearance, but may be confused by life. Birth years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015. Lucky Numbers: 3, 9, 4. Colors: Green, red, purple. Best Matches: Rabbit, horse, pig. Avoid ox, dog.

Monkey — Aug. 6 to Sept. 5. Yang. Inventive, clever, overly agreeable, strong-willed but quick to let go. 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016. Lucky numbers: 1, 8, 7. Colors: White, gold, blue. Best matches: Rat, dragon, snake. Avoid tigers and pigs.

Rooster — Sept. 6 to Oct. 5. Yin. Capable, often right, emotional, lonely, but interesting. 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005. Lucky numbers: 7, 5, 8. Colors: Gold, brown, yellow. Best matches: Ox, dragon, snake. Avoid rats, rabbits and dogs.

Dog — Oct. 6 to Nov. 5. Yang. Loyal, honest, non-materialistic, but can be selfish. 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006. Lucky Numbers: 3, 4, 9. Colors: green, red, purple. Best matches: Tiger, rabbit, horse. Avoid oxen, dragons and sheep.

Pig — Nov. 6 to Dec. 5. Yin. Honest, shy, warm and patient; tends to withdraw when harmed. 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007. Lucky numbers: 2, 5, 8. Colors: Yellow, gray, brown, gold. Best matches: sheep, rabbit. Avoid snakes, monkeys and pigs.

Rat — (Begins the zodiac) Dec. 6 to Jan. 5. Yang. Imaginative, witty, charming, generous, but quick-tempered. Birth years: 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008. Lucky numbers: 2, 3; lucky colors: blue, gold, green. Best matches: dragon, monkey, ox. Avoid sheep, horses and rabbits.

Ox — Jan. 6 to Feb. 3. Yin. Patient, speaks little, conservative (not political), methodical, good with hands. Hates to be contradicted. Born 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009. Lucky Numbers: 1, 9. Colors: blue, red, purple. Best matches: rat, snake, rooster. Avoid horses, dogs and sheep.

Tiger — Feb. 4 to March 5. Yang. Sensitive, deep-thinking, bold, loving. Not so good with authority (who’d mess with a tiger?). Born 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010. Lucky numbers: 1, 3, 4. Colors: blue, gray, white, orange. Best matches: horse, dog. Avoid snakes and monkeys.

2023 is a water sign year, associated with the north, winter and wisdom. Rabbits are also a yin sign associated with the earth, and the hours 5 to 7 a.m. And that’s just a small sample; Chinese astrology is far too complex for a newspaper column.

Now as it’s the Year of the Rabbit, here’s something interesting about the real deal, which may surprise you. Did you know rabbits are like cats? (1) They purr when they’re happy; (2) their babies are called kittens; (3) they use a litter box and can be hard on furniture; (4) they shed a lot; and (5) they don’t have to be walked.

Don’t tell my cat; she already thinks it’s her year.

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network who’s happily matched with the animal sign she’s supposed to avoid. Email

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