The Chinese horoscope is composed of 12 signs, each represented by animals that, according to Chinese mythology, were chosen by the Emperor of Heaven to be included in a calendar he was making. Only the first 12 finishers of the race to cross a river made it into the calendar. Their sequence in the so-called lunar calendar also is based on the order they reached the emperor.
Every new year, when the animal sign changes, the crossover is marred by violent upheavals manifested by deadly accidents and other disasters. However, the reported “gate crashing” of a runaway bull into a New Year’s Eve party of residents of Barangay Tangway, Lipa City, Batangas last Tuesday night did not mean the transition to the Year of the Ox. The Year of the Ox is set to happen in 2021.
Likewise, the shooting of a 70-year-old wild chicken hunter in Penarrubia, Abra last Wednesday, apparently because he was mistaken for a chicken by another hunter for mimicking the fowl’s sound, does not mean that 2020 is the Year of the Rooster, which is still to happen in 2029.
The death of about 30 monkeys in a German zoo that caught fire on New Year’s Day was neither a transition to the Year of the Monkey, which is set to come in 2028.
2020 is actually the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar. The rat is first in the order of the 12 animal signs being the first to cross the river and reach the mythical emperor.
Unlike 2019 when its animal sign, the pig, was badly affected by the African swine fever outbreak in 11 Asian countries with millions of hogs culled to prevent the spread of the disease, 2020 is not expected to be as catastrophic for rodents. Except perhaps for the bamboo rats that thrive in Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province of China.
The guinea pig-like bamboo rats feed on the roots of crop plants such as sugar cane, tapioca and bamboo. Being clean at that, they are being bred by the Chinese Farm Brothers for human consumption.