January is named for the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. He’s depicted with two faces, looking in opposite directions. In any event, this is the customary time of year for people to take stock of what was and what’s to come.
In the most basic terms, we do know some things about 2021 for an absolute certainty. 2021—MMXXI if you’re particularly old-fashioned— will be a common year (not a Leap Year) starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. This is the 2021st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 21st year of the 3rd millennium, the 21st year of the 21st century, and the 2nd year of the 2020s decade.
2021 Chinese Zodiac Predictions
In the Chinese Zodiac, 2021 will be a year of the Metal Ox beginning on February 12th (2020 was a Metal Rat). According to custom, the Ox is very hardworking and methodical. In the year of the Metal Ox, we should all focus on relationships of all kind (so let’s hope we don’t have to keep social distancing too much longer).
The Ox is also associated with hard work and responsibility, so expect lots of that in 2021 as well. The repercussions of previously made decisions will hit this year (oh boy!), but at least all our hard work will be rewarded.
2021 Angel Number Predictions
Angel Numbers are a branch of numerology based on the idea that groups of reappearing numbers or sequences of numbers are coded messages from angelic protectors.
The Angel Number 2021 symbolizes faith, whether it be in your guardian angels, your relationships, or your own intuition. Don’t doubt that your angels have good plans for you and that allowing change will bring progress. Seeing Angel Number 2021 indicates that you need to control your thoughts more, as they can affect your reality.
As per the Numerology Horoscope 2021, this year will be good for you financially. You will have a balanced and flourishing family life. Though you may face some stressful situations in the middle of the year, you will gradually overcome those challenges with your understanding and wisdom.
What about 2020?
In general Numerology, 2020 is like 1616, 1717, 1818, and 1919, because the first two digits match the second two digits. Being alive in 2020 is special because it is the only year you are likely to live through wherein the first two digits will match the second two digits—unless you believe in cryogenics or reincarnation.
The energy represented by the number 2020 has a resonance of focus and relationships. It also resonates with conscientiousness, pragmatism, and teamwork.
Apparently, the Angel Number 2020 was telling us all to be prepared for what is coming our way. Guardian angels were telling us that extreme changes were about to enter our lives. Had we paid attention, perhaps we would have been more prepared, both mentally and physically.
“The year 2020 ushers in the Universal Year 4 – a number representing stability, organisation, industriousness, convention, and a mini-wealth cycle,” said Gracy Yap, a Singaporean numerologist and author of Secrets Of Golden Numbers. Jan 3, 2020
It seems everyone said 2020 would be a year of healing and big changes. Well, that was half right.
Interestingly, no one foretold the COVID-19 pandemic or the upheaval surrounding our presidential (and other) elections. Massive wildfires in Australia and California, murder hornets, flesh-eating bacteria in Mississippi, swarms of locusts in Africa, and wide-spread civil unrest in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, America, Hong Kong, and Sudan… none of these were mentioned in all those 2020 predictions.
Bottom line: We have every reason to believe that 2021 will be a good year, new president in place and COVID vaccinations injected. But don’t count on it!
Writers, that’s who. Rats have long been characters—sometimes major—in literature old and new. Fables from around the world feature rats/mice and the moral usually relates to survival in one form or another. In these fables, rats are often presented as clever and resourceful. Aesop’s Fables, the Fables of Bidpai, and Panchatantra all feature rats involved in moral lessons.
In some languages, rats and mice are interchangeable. When there is a distinction made, rats usually come off worse. In fiction and in popular consciousness, rats are almost always portrayed as more devious or dirty than mice.
Rats are extremely important in Chinese mythology. The rat is the first of twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac, corresponding to Sagitarius. Both are assigned the traits of creativity, hard work, generosity, and optimism.
The Year of the Rat is reputed to be one of prosperity and hard work. FYI: 2020 is a year of the rat. The rat rules daily from 11:00 p.m. till 1:00 a.m. and its season is winter.
N.B. writers: if you are inclined to write a rat fable, this might be the place to start.
Often rats are included in stories to add a touch of horror to scenes involving dungeons, torture chambers, vampires, the unknown… Authors from Edgar Allen Poe (“The Pit and the Pendulum“), to George Orwell (1984) to Stephen King (“Graveyard Shift” and “1922,” for example) have made effective use of rats. Shakespeare included rats in eight of his plays. Perhaps the epitome of horror would be The Coming of the Rats by George H. Smith (1961), suggesting the aftermath of the H-bomb.
Rats have such a horrific reputation that threats of being eaten, taken, overrun, etc., by rats are a common tool used around the world to frighten naughty children into better behavior. In Canada—Newfoundland—rat threats were second only to bear threats, and twice as frequent as big fish (in third place out of seven).
Writers consider the possibilities: “I’ve got an attic/cellar full of rats for naughty little girls and boys like you.”
As mentioned above, rats are often depicted as smart, and turn up in unexpected places. Consider this poem by Emily Dickinson:
The rat is the concisest tenant. He pays not rent— Repudiates the obligation, On schemes intent. Balking our wit To sound or circumvent, Hate cannot harm A foe so reticent. Neither decree Prohibits him, Lawful as Equilibrium.
Rats are everywhere in the world except Antarctica, where it’s too cold for them to survive outside and there are too few humans to provide for them.
In some places, especially islands, aggressive rat control policies have reclaimed the land.
Rats are one of the world’s worst invasive species.
Transported around the world on ships, rats have been credited with the extinction of untold number of small native animals and birds.
Rats often live with and near humans (commensals).
Rats carry many zoonotic pathogens, all sorts from The Black Death to foot-and-mouth disease.
Many rats in the wild live only about a year due to predation.
By and large, rat vocalizations are pitched beyond the range of human hearing.
Rats have been kept as pets at least since the late 1800s, most often brown rat species, and are no more of a health risk than cats or dogs.
Rats are omnivorous.
Rats are cannibals.
Rats as Food
The Bible forbids eating rats, and parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, consider rat meat to be diseased, unclean, and socially unacceptable. Islam, Kashrut, the Shipibo people of Peru and the Sironó people of Bolivia all have strong taboos against eating rats. However the high number of rats and/or a limited food supply have brought rats into the diets of both humans and pets worldwide.
Rat meat is part of the cuisines of Vietnam, Taiwan, and Thailand.
National Geographic (March 14, 2019) featured Vietnamese rat meat.
In India, rats are essential to the traditional Mishmi diet, for women are allowed to eat only fish, pork, wild birds, and rats. In the Musahar community, rats are farmed as an exotic delicacy.
Aboriginal Australians’ diet regularly included rats, as did traditional Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.
Rice field rats were an original component of paella in Valencia (the rat later replaced by rabbit, seafood, or chicken). These rats were also eaten in the Philippines and Cambodia.
Rich people ate rat pie in England in Victorian times, and others ate rats during the World Wars when food was strictly rationed.
Alcoholic rats trapped in wine cellars in France became part of a regional delicacy – grilled rats, Bordeaux-style.
Rat stew was (and maybe still is) eaten in West Virginia.
Snakes, both wild and pets, eat rats and mice. The rats are available to snake owners both live and frozen. However, in Britain, feeding any live mammal to another animal is against the law.
When included in pet food, rats are counted as “cereals” in the ingredients list.
Rat Contributions to Science
The first rat research I know of was conducted at Clark University (Worcester, MA) in 1895. Since then, rats have been used to study disease transmission, genetics, effects of diet, cardiovascular conditions, and drug effects.
Psychologists have studied rats to further our understanding of learning, intelligence, drug abuse, ingenuity, aggressiveness, adaptability, and the effects of overcrowding (the “behavioral sink”).
Besides acting in movies, rats are good a sniffing out gunpowder residue, land mines, and tuberculosis. They also can be trained for animal-assisted therapy.
N.B. writers: consider a PI or amateur detective who has a trained rat sidekick!
The stereotypic rat: Besides the horror aspects of ratness, their image is mainly that of pest.
They infest urban areas, particularly multi-family housing. They like areas with access to food, water, and a moderate environment, such as under sinks, near garbage, in walls, cabinets, or drawers.
In rural areas, rats are a threat to both grain supplies and small birds. (Think chicks.) They live in fields, barns, cellars, basements, and attics.
And as with so many things, rats are a bigger bane for the poor, whether rural or urban. Picture this: a baby crib is set in the middle of a room, all four legs in buckets of water to try to keep rats and mice from climbing into the crib. Meanwhile, beady eyes stare from darkened corners.
In Western astrology (derived from early Babylonian star charts), your birth sign depends on when during the calendar year you were born. I happen to be an Aries. But the Chinese sign of the zodiac under which one is born depends upon the birth year (based on the Chinese lunar year). I happen to have been born under the sign of the Rooster. Many people in the US—most?—are more or less aware of such things.
Similarly, awareness that 2020 is a Rat year is relatively widespread. (Rat is often translated as Mouse in some countries, like Vietnam.) But not so many people are aware that Rat years aren’t all alike: 2020 is the year of the Metal Rat. Say what?! There is a Rat year every 12 years, but a Metal Rat year cycles every 60 years.
This is because the Chinese Five Elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth) also cycle in order, so the alignment repeats every 60 years. The basic theory is that the zodiac sign characteristics are affected by/ interact with the elements. The Five Elements are used in Chinese medicine, philosophy, fengshui, fortune-telling, and martial arts.
Because they are less familiar to most Westerners, I’ll start with the qualities of the five elements:
Traditionally, Metal is either silver or gold. In the West, people consider a gold year to come every 60 years. According the Chinese fortune-tellers, it’s once every 600.
The Chinese Five Elements are a bit like scissors/ paper/ rock in that no one element is always the strongest. In the controlling/ overcoming/ destruction/ restraining/ weakening interactions: Fire melts Metal, Metal chops Wood, Wood breaks up Earth, Earth absorbs Water, Water quenches Fire.
In the generating/ begetting/ engendering/ mothering/ enhancing interactions: Metal carries Water, Water nourishes Wood, Wood feeds Fire, Fire creates Earth/ash, Earth bears Metal.
How do the elements and signs of the zodiac interact? Each Chinese Zodiac Sign has a fixed element. This is the element that carries over from year to year. For the Rat, the fixed element is Water—and wisdom fits very well with the overall characteristics of Rats.
How do we get a metal rat? This year aligns a Metal year and a Rat year. A person’s characteristics are said to be determined both by the fixed element of their zodiac sign and the element of the year they were born in. Children born this year are supposed to have characteristics of Rats, Water, and Metal.
Characteristics of Rats – People born in the year of the Rat like saving and collecting. They are organized and financially secure. They tend to be parsimonious in terms of gift-giving. Rats don’t seek praise and recognition. They are sensitive, aware when there is trouble. When Rats take risks, they usually succeed. Add wisdom and, in 2020, righteousness.
Writers take note: consider drawing on the Chinese Zodiac and the related elements when characterizing your character. The traits often seem to be compatible.
How did the zodiac order come to be? In Western astrology, the astrological signs are based on constellations of stars that typically light the night sky during that month. They are ordered by the calendar year.
How did the Chinese zodiac years come to be Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig in that order? According to chinahighlights.com, the story of the Chinese zodiac is much more entertaining. I’ll quote it here.
The Heavenly Gate Race Story — Reasons for Zodiac Rankings
Long, long ago, there was no Chinese zodiac. The Jade Emperor 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.
Early Risers: Quick-Witted Rat and Diligent Ox
Rat ranks first.
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 about to cross the river and swiftly jumped into Ox’s ear.
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 ear and dashed to the feet of the Emperor. Rat won first place and Ox was second.
Competitive and Fast: Tiger and Rabbit
Tiger and Rabbit came third and fourth because both are fast and competitive, but Tiger was faster. (Rabbit got across the river by hopping on stepping stones and a floating log.)
Good-Looking Dragon and Crafty Snake
Good-looking Dragon was fifth and was immediately noticed by the Jade Emperor, who said Dragon’s son could be sixth. But Dragon’s son didn’t come with him that day. Just then, Snake came forward and said Dragon was his adoptive father; so Snake ranked sixth.
Kind and Modest Horse and Goat
Horse and Goat arrived. They were very kind and modest and each let the other go first. The Jade Emperor saw how polite they were and ranked them seventh and eighth.
Monkey had fallen well behind. But he jumped between trees and stones, and caught up to be ninth. Last were Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
These 12 animals became guards of the Heavenly Gate.
Why No Cat? — Enmity Between Cat and Rat
Although Cat and Rat were neighbors, the former always bullied the latter, and Rat felt very angry but dared not say it out loud; therefore, he sought revenge on Cat.
Upon hearing the Emperor’s decree Rat chuckled to himself and thought: “This is an opportunity”.
The sleepyhead Cat kicked open Rat’s door, ordering Rat to keep him informed of when he was going to the Emperor’s birthday party, and Rat readily promised that he would.
On the morning, however, Rat left quietly without informing Cat. Cat didn’t wake up until the race was over and it was too late — he was not able to make it into the cycle.
After the party, a great enmity grew between Cat and Rat, so that rats scatter in all directions when a cat appears.
An alternative version of the story says that Cat and Rat got as far as crossing the river together on Ox’s head, but Rat pushed Cat into the water (and Cat was washed away and drowned or didn’t get back to the Heavenly Gate in time to get a ranking).
People’s Personal Traits
The ranking story above is made up according to people’s understanding of characteristics of the 12 animals. And when people talk about a person’s zodiac sign, they might think about the zodiac sign’s characteristics.
For example, when talking about Rats, people think of quick-witted, resourceful, and versatile people. Oxen are decisive, honest, dependable, and hardworking. There is a wealth of information available online about every aspect of life suggested for each sign, including careers, colors, numbers, flowers, education, and just about anything else a writer might use.
People born under certain zodiac animal signs are also assumed to have varying levels of compatibility with other signs. This goes beyond simple romantic relationships; like the balance of the five elements, each animal offers something different to each other animal. A friend of mine had a daughter in the year of the Fire Monkey and insisted that her sister-in-law (an Earth Rat) was the first person to hold the baby. Rats provide wisdom and guidance to Monkeys, tempering some of their more negative qualities.
How to Behave During Chinese New Year
According to chinesenewyear.net, there is a whole raft of taboo behaviors during this time. The majority of these taboos stem from an overall belief that the year will continue as started – whatever you are doing at the beginning of the year, you will be doing the whole year long. In 2020, Chinese New Year falls on January 25th and the festival will last till February 8th, about 15 days. Good luck observing all of these taboos for two weeks!
Do not say negative words.
Do not break ceramics or glass.
Do not clean or sweep.
Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects.
Do not demand debt repayment.
Avoid fighting and crying.
Avoid taking medicine, visiting the doctor, perform/undergo surgery, get shots.
Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed.
Writers note: Breaking these taboos could be a source of tension between characters. The lengths a character goes to in order to avoid these taboos could make for interesting tension.
Red is considered a lucky color almost everywhere Chinese New Year is celebrated, especially red envelopes. Adults hand out lucky money to children (and sometimes elders) in special red envelopes. Crisp, clean, new bills straight from the bank are preferred, always in an odd number. In America, $2 bills are especially prized!
Because of the Chinese diaspora, the Lunar New Year is celebrated in many countries with large populations of people with Chinese heritage (including America!) Many of these countries have their own traditions and taboos while celebrating. Here are a few examples of different customs:
Celebrations follow the same lunar calendar used for Chinese New Year but usually only last for three days.
Family is a primary focus of celebrations, including offerings to ancestors, visiting elders and other family members. and tending to family graves. The first day of festivities is usually reserved for family gatherings.
Lion dances, setting off fireworks, displays of symbolic fruits and flowers, and “Chinese Markets” are common public forms of celebrating.
Losar celebrations vary according to regional differences in Buddhist practices
The holiday is often celebrated with prayer and temple visits
Decorations incorporate Buddhist signs, such as the Eight Auspicious Symbols marked on walls
The first three days of Losar focus on specific devotions: Lama Losar – dharma teachers and gurus; Kings Losar – community and national leaders, the Dalai Lama offers greetings and blessings to other national leaders; Choe-kyong Losar – gods and divine protectors