On February 5, 2019, Chinese New Year launched across the world in the grandest of splendor. This year, we celebrate the Year of the Pig (猪年).

The Chinese zodiac, a 12-year cycle of animal years and their applied traits, goes back so far in history. According to the Chinese legend, the Jade Emperor of the Heaven wanted to select 12 animals to be his guards. He sent an immortal being into man’s world to spread the message that the earlier one went through the Heavenly Gate, the better the rank one would have.

The next day, animals set off towards the Heavenly Gate. Rat got up very early. On his way to the gate, he encountered a river. He had to stop there, owing to the swift current. After waiting a long time, Rat noticed Ox was about to cross the river and swiftly jumped onto Ox’s back. The diligent Ox did not mind at all and simply continued. After crossing the river, he raced towards the palace of the Jade Emperor. Suddenly, Rat jumped out of Ox’s back and dashed to the feet of the Emperor. Rat won first place and Ox was second. Tiger and Rabbit came third and fourth. Good-looking Dragon was fifth and Snake ranked sixth. Horse and Goat were ranked seventh and eighth. Then came Monkey, Rooster and Dog. Finally, the Pig arrived as the twelfth animal.

Such is the Year of the Pig. Years of the Pig include 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, and 2031. Due to the pig’s traits of generosity, hard work, and compassion, the Year of the Pig is auspicious indeed. This year is considered the Year of the Earth Pig (土猪). In Chinese element theory, each zodiac sign is associated with one of the five elements: Metal (金), Wood (木), Water (水), Fire (火), and Earth (土). An Earth Pig comes once in a 60-year cycle. It is theorized that a person’s characteristics are determined by their birth year’s zodiac animal sign and element. A person born in the Earth Pig year is believed to be communicative, popular among their friends, and with a strong sense of time keeping.

Let’s enjoy the Year of the Earth Pig, and join in the celebration with billions of others worldwide.