The Year of the Rat is a year of opportunity

But we can expect also some surprises. Perhaps on the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Year of the Rat begins on February 7, 2008.

Questions:

1. How important is a zodiac sing rat in the Chinese cultural tradition? Is it something what makes the year of the rat really very special?

2. Generally how deep is the belief in China zodiac sings could influence the life of the individuals and the life of the society?

3. The Chinese zodiac is popular also in the West. Does somebody care in China about the western zodiac?

4. In the western civilization is rat not very popular animal, why it is in China important zodiac sign?

5. China will host Olympic Games this year. With regards to the Chinese traditions is the year of the rat suitable for Olympic Games?

Answers:

Neil Somerville, Author of Your Chinese Horoscope and The Answers

1. This Rat year is very important because it marks the start of a new cycle of animal years. The Rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac and is generally seen as an opportunist. And just as Rat years usher in a new cycle of animal years it is regarded as a favourable year for commerce and growth. It is a year of some surprises too but generally the influence of the Rat year is positive and encouraging.

2. Many in the Far East have a great interest in their sign. Some Chinese years are particularly good for getting married or starting a family and some do wait for these auspicious years. Also many are very knowledgeable about the nature and temperament of the different signs.

3. There has been a growing awareness of Western astrology in China and the Far East. However the interest is more casual than serious.

4. A legend tells of the Buddha inviting the animals of the kingdom to a party to celebrate the new year. Only 12 turned up and in gratitude the Buddha named 12 years after the 12 animals. As the opportunistic Rat was first to arrive, the Rat was given the honour of having the first year named after it.

Also, while the Rat may not have a good reputation in the West, in Japan Rats are considered a symbol of wealth and in China a symbol of prosperity. Ancient Egyptians also worshipped rats.

5. As the Year of the Rat is a year of opportunity it is a very good one for the Olympic Games in Beijing. Not only will it allow China the chance to display recent achievements and its tremendous growth but will see some tremendous sporting achievements. Rat years can be inspiring and world athletics will reach new heights. The Olympic Games will be a success although as with all major events there could be some bickering behind the scenes.

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