As many of us prepare to celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year on February 19th, the festival begins with a little confusion:
Should we be welcoming the Year Of The Sheep, as some believe, or The Year Of The Goat/Ram, as others are touting?
The answer? It really depends on how the Chinese character, yang, is translated.
The Chinese zodiac was invented by the Han people who raised goats (not sheep), so the image is more likely to refer to a goat. Also, the goat appears on many Chinese zodiac stamps and the goat was one of the 12 bronze statues on the zodiac at the Old Summer Palace where emperors of the Qing Dynasty handled government affairs. Publicly, however, storefronts throughout Asia are showing a mixture of cute sheep, cheeky goats, and majestic curly-horned rams. Many schools are primarily showing images of sheep because they're fluffy and more appealing to little kids.
So what are the characteristics of those born in the Year Of The Sheep/Goat?
People born in this year are thought to be gentle, stable, and kind. They have strong creativity, are persistent, with strong inner resilience. These are folks who like to be in groups and are thought to come by professional skills easily. Because people born in this year are calm, they're thought to be healthier, with fewer health-related problems.
Here are three of my favorite websites for kids that will teach them all about this holiday:
This site explains how to prepare for the New Year and shows celebrations around the world. It gives a great global perspective on the holiday (after all, it's celebrated by millions of people not only in China, but Japan, Singapore, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, and Great Britain to name a few).
Got a preschooler? Then this is the place for you where you'll find lots of goat printables, including mazes, worksheets, and coloring pages.
In addition to having some wonderful crafts, you can find printable books here for kids! There's so much and it's FREE!
As the mother of a child who was adopted from China, I embrace her culture. I'm so happy that she is proud to be Chinese-American and feels a connection to her country of birth! I've learned so much about resilience, beauty, and creativity by looking at different aspects of China and what it means, to her, to be Chinese.
Xin [sing] Nian [nee-an] Kuai [kwai] Le [ler] 新年快乐!