There are very few persisting, ancient traditions that are as fervently followed as the Chinese Zodiac, a twelve-year cycle with each year corresponding to a different animal. Of particular interest for further investigation, 2020 marks the first year of the calendar with the Year of the Rat.
In many cultures, ancient and modern, the majestic tiger has been both feared and respected. The tiger has been (and is) seen as a protector, symbol of nobility, of power, and prosperity. Many ancient cultures have myths and legends that surround tigers.
The Year of the Rat and the Year of the Ox are back to back. Interestingly enough, the two are known to be nearly polar opposites of each other. The Ox is diligent and determined, able to work very hard and not give up. However, Ox are at the same time less sociable (Hox). It is ironic for this pandemic to hit during the Year of the Rat, as the Rat is seen as more social and extroverted a creature, at such a time that extroversion is deadly. Now more then ever we are required to stay apart from one another for our own safety.
The Chinese New Year, often referred to as the Lunar New Year, begins on a different date each year. Approximately 1.5 billion people around the world celebrate this lunar calendar based festivity.
I recently learned that my Zodiac animal is the Rabbit, meant to house the personality traits of kindness, sweetness, and popularity. It was interesting to learn about the interesting astrological, mythological, and cultural significance of the rabbit from browsing the Hox Zodiac website, but it got me thinking—how are rabbits faring in our current situation? The COVID-19 outbreak is a time of great uncertainty, and recently animals have not been excepted from the pandemic as a source of concern.
2020, the year of the rat according to the Chinese Zodiac, has started off like no other. With the COVID-19 pandemic breaking out from Wuhan, China, the disease has now spread across the world resulting in 2.4 million cases and over 165,00 deaths thus far. The level of contagion that this disease has never quite been seen before and we are still learning about the virus itself everyday.
It is very interesting yet contradictory that the animal most praised during this year of the Chinese Zodiac, the rat, has been used constantly to advance biological research throughout history. In fact, it has probably made a contribution to research in almost every scientific area, from drug addition to virology (Hox Zodiac).
It seems as though the only media attention not being devoted to news surrounding COVID-19 is centering on the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness”. With many countries urging people to stay at home, many turned to streaming services to pass the time.
Today, fewer than 4000 tigers live in the wilderness, while around 8000 are prisoners of "Tiger Farms." Under the pretense of zoos and tourist attractions, these farms grow tigers in special speed-breeding facilities, similar to livestock, then to be sold for the parts to customers in China and Vietnam (National Geographic).
In week 3’s lecture, we learned about the Hoax Zodiac, with each animal sign tying into different aspects like food, taste, body parts, elements, and seasons. The current year we are in 2020, is the year of the rat. I also learned that the year I was born in, 1998, makes my sign a tiger. This is something I never knew before and comes so interestingly to me because my favorite animal has always been a tiger.
Although I am a Tiger, I decided to choose the rooster and highlight the importance of how our treatment of this animal can have more positive effects than negative ones. According to Dr. Vesna’s lecture, the rooster and the chicken are interchangeable, mainly because the rooster is another term for referring to a male chicken while a female chicken is called a hen. Chickens have played an essential role in our society, including our survival for those who eat poultry.
On Friday night, as I was browsing TV channels with my family, we stumbled upon ABC 20/20’s segment “Siegfried & Roy: Behind the Magic,” which centered around Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn, two legendary entertainers whose rise to fame and notoriety can be attributed to their larger-than-life show in Las Vegas, which prominently featured white tigers and lions.
In writing this week’s blog post, I first considered the ox and its place in Chinese mythology. According to a common myth about the animals in the Chinese zodiac, the order of the animals was decided by which would arrive to the Emperor’s party first. The ox agreed to give the rat a ride across a river to arrive at the party.
I was born in the year of the Tiger in 1998. As I have had the chance to learn about the tiger through the hoxzodiac.com website and other sources, I have really enjoyed learning about the stories and symbolism behind Chinese zodiac animals. A particular aspect of these signs was that each was given a specific organ. For instance, the rat organ is the gallbladder, the rabbit organ is the large intestine, and the dragon organ is the stomach. However, the tiger’s organ is the lung. And in this time of the Covid19 crisis, I found this to be an incredibly striking topic.
I was born in 1999, the year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac. While exploring the HOX Zodiac website about rabbits and their connection to scientific research, I learned that rabbits were used by Louis Pasteur to develop his rabies vaccine (HOX Zodiac, “Louis Pasteur and the Development of the Attenuated Vaccine”). I hadn’t understood the history of immunology and vaccines and reading about Pasteur’s work, especially in the context of COVID-19 and the search for a