Chinese New Year 2014: Eight Things you (Probably) didn't Know About the Year of the Horse

As the Chinese say goodbye to the year of the snake, we look at eight things you really should know about the year of the horse

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The 15-day celebration of Chinese new year starts on Friday, with the first new moon of the calendar year. The day marks the end of the year of the water snake and welcomes the start of the year of the wooden horse. To bring you luck this new year, we’ve listed eight (a lucky number in China) things you possibly didn’t know about the year ahead.

1) The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead.

2) People born in the year of the horse are said to be a bit like horses: animated, active and energetic – they love being in a crowd. They are quick to learn independence – foals can walk minutes after birth – and they have a straightforward and positive attitude towards life. They are known for their communication skills and are exceedingly witty.

3) If you were born in the year of the horse, you should be looking for potential partners who were born in the years of the tiger, goat or dog. Avoid those born in the year of the rat, ox, rabbit or horse. You won’t like them.

4) If none of this rings true, don’t worry. The animal signs of each year merely indicate how others see you or how you choose to present yourself. There are also animal signs for each month, known as inner animals, signs for each day, called true animals, and animals for each hour, or secret animals.

5) According to superstition, in your zodiac year you will offend Tai Sui, the god of age, and will experience bad luck for the whole year. To avoid this you should wear something red, which has been given to you by someone else. In general, the lucky colours of team horse are are green, red and purple; the lucky numbers are three, four and nine, and the lucky flowers are giant taro and jasmine.

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