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We’re in the Year of the Rat. Here’s What It Means
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Guess what, friends? According to the Chinese zodiac, we are officially in the Year of the Rat. Bookended by the Chinese New Year—or Spring Festival—the Year of the Rat began on January 25, 2020, and continues through February 11, 2021. You’re probably aware that the Chinese zodiac consists of 12 animals, each representing a year in a continuous cycle. But what does it mean to be born in the Year of the Rat? And what does this year have in store? Let’s find out.

Why a Rat, Anyway?

The rat is the first of all the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Why? Welp, according to myth, when the Jade Emperor was seeking palace guards, he declared there would be a competition between the animals in the kingdom for the position. Whoever arrived first to his party would earn the coveted positions and be placed in that order. The rat (who sneakily tricked both the ox and even his friend, the cat) got there ahead of the rest. This is why, in Chinese culture, Rats are known to be quick-witted, smart and able to get what they want. As the first sign, they are associated with yang (or active) energy and the hours just after midnight that signal the start of a new day.

Am I a Rat?

If you were born in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 or 2008 you were born during the Year of the Rat. Celebrities born during this zodiacal year include RuPaul, Gwyneth Paltrow, Shaquille O’Neal, Prince Harry, Katy Perry, Lorde and our cooking icon and imaginary best friend, Ina Garten.

Personality Traits: Rats are known for being optimistic, energetic and clever. They want to be successful while also leading calm and peaceful lives. Rats are simultaneously quite stubborn and opinionated while also being popular and having lots of friends.

Career: Rats are free-spirited and resourceful when it comes to work. They tend to stick to creative jobs or those that require technical work and attention to detail. Rats make great designers, architects or engineers. Because they are very opinionated, Rats do better as part of a team than they do leading it.

Rats are very good at making money as well as saving it. If they aren’t careful, though, they can develop a reputation for being stingy. (Hey, Rat, stop hoarding your cheese.)

Health: Though Rats are extremely energetic and love exercise (especially cardio), they tend to get tired easily and need to be careful not to push themselves too hard. As far as nutrition, Rats usually can truly eat anything, but they can also be the type to skip a meal when they get too busy. To maintain their health, it’s important for Rats to develop a self-care ritual (intuitive eating, perhaps?) and focus on positivity.

Relationships: The signs most compatible with the Rat are the Ox (in an opposites attract sort of way), the Dragon (both are fiercely independent) and the Monkey (fellow free spirits who tend to be their dream partners). The least compatible? The Horse (who tends to be overcritical of the Rat’s ambitions), the Goat (who ends up siphoning all of the Rat’s resources) and the Rabbit (even though it might be love at first sight, the relationship will probably be difficult to maintain).

Yay, I’m a Rat. Is 2020 Going to Be My Best Year Ever?

You might think everything’s coming up roses for Rats during the Year of the Rat, but, womp-womp, it’s actually the opposite. Traditionally, a zodiac sign’s year is the most unlucky for them. That being said, with 2020 being a difficult (yet rewarding) year for all signs, as a Rat, you have a better chance than usual for the year to be a success.

Now is the time to put your head down and work hard, because your dedication is likely to be rewarded this year. But on the romance front, things don’t look so great. Now is not the time to search for a soul mate, so keep things relaxed and lighthearted. (This also isn’t the year to force a serious relationship that just isn’t working.) So stay healthy and take care of yourself, Rats. Burnout and sickness are possible if you push yourself beyond your limits, so focus on eating well and boosting your immune system to combat the stress. 

So What’s in Store for 2020?

The Rat is seen as the sign of wealth and surplus. (In fact, in some Chinese traditions, married couples would pray to rats when they wanted to have children.) Overall, we can look to the Year of the Rat to be productive and creative with lots of change. 

In addition to the animals, the Chinese zodiac also cycles through five elemental types. So this is not only the Year of the Rat, it is the Year of the Metal Rat (awesome band name alert). Metal years bring out our most dedicated, persistent and hardworking qualities, so this year is not only about accomplishing our goals but also getting what we want through sheer grit and determination.

What Will Bring Rats Luck This Year?

In Chinese culture, certain symbols, directions and colors are auspicious or inauspicious for each zodiac sign. This can apply to those born under that sign as well as for all of us during that particular zodiac year.

Colors: Blue, Gold, Green
Numbers: 2, 3
Flowers: Lily, African Violet
Directions of auspiciousness: Southeast, Northeast
Directions of wealth: Southeast, East
Directions of love: West 

What Unlucky Things Should Rats Stay Away From?

Colors: Yellow, Brown
Numbers: 5, 9 

RELATED: The Subscription Box You Need Based on Your Zodiac Sign

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