Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

Goat, Sheep or Ram?

Processed with Rookie
Today is the beginning of the new Lunar New Year for 2015, a calendar Chinese people have used since 2600 B.C when the mythical Yellow Emperor, or Huang Di, started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac. According to legend, Huang Di named an animal to represent each year in a 12-year cycle that includes the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

But there seems to be some reticence in North America to call it the Year of the GOAT, and choose instead a more “sexier” animal, the “Ram”, or even the softer, fluffier “Sheep”.

Is it the Year of the GOAT, Sheep, or Ram?

I think many in North America consider the GOAT to be a bit banal, a lowly animal un-befitting of the majesty of the Lunar New Year, but the GOAT has always been a very well-respected animal in Chinese culture and history. Since ancient times, the goat became closely linked to Chinese people’s livelihood. Its meat and milk are highly nutritious, and its wool makes fabric that is lightweight, soft, and has other good properties. Chinese people also learned to use its fleece to make writing brushes and its skin to keep warm.

The Chinese character 羊 (yáng), which generally refers to a GOAT, is considered a symbol of auspiciousness, good luck, and peace. Since ancient times, people have used 羊to symbolize good-naturedness.

羊 is among the animals that Chinese people like most. It is generally gentle, calm, and quiet by nature and is a source of many things that benefit humankind.

羊 is close to the meaning of good things. As such, it is used in many Chinese characters to indicate something beneficial.

The most striking characteristic of the GOAT is its peaceful manner and so Goat people tend to be lovers of peace who prefer to avoid disagreements. Thus, the Year of the GOAT is a time for people leave conflicts behind and to get along peacefully.

Epoch Times

Those born in the Year of the GOAT (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, or 2015), are said to be creative, intelligent, dependable, and calm. GOATS are comfortable being alone with their thoughts, are seen as calm individuals. Their personalities are quiet, reserved, and soothing. They tend to be easygoing and relaxed. GOATS enjoy being part of a group, but prefer staying out of the limelight and letting others take center stage. They are nurturing and pensive.

To sign GOAT in American Sign Language, tap your first two bent fingers (like the horns of a GOAT) to your chin and then tap forehead.

Gung Hei Fat Choi (Happy New Year)!

What do you think –GOAT, Ram, or Sheep?

Year of the Horse (and Noodles!)

My husband is half-Chinese, and our daughter was the first grandchild born into his side of the family so we were all very excited to celebrate Ella’s first Lunar New Year when she was not quite one year old. I didn’t know much about Chinese culture, but during my pregnancy I had looked at the characteristics of being born under the sign of the HORSE (which is also the Chinese zodiac sign we just came into this week for 2014). By New Year’s, Ella was eating solids, and her proud Grandma made an incredible feast of traditional Chinese dishes meant to bring us good luck and fortune in the new year. One of the dishes Grandma made that Ella could eat was NOODLES.

Long noodles [mee-yan]

Traditionally, long NOODLES symbolize longevity and are served uncut. If the NOODLES are cut, it symbolizes cutting your longevity short. Only I didn’t know that -all I knew was that mealtime usually meant me sitting next to the high chair helping Ella keep bite-sized foods on her tray and hopefully into her mouth. Uh-oh.

Ella was hungry by the time we arrived for our New Year’s dinner that night, and I had plunked her right into the high chair as Grandma brought her a dish of NOODLES to get started on. I reached across to start cutting Ella’s NOODLES and I heard a gutteral, “Nooooooooooo…. don’t cut the NOODLES!” as she spied me while heading back into the kitchen for more food. My husband chuckled at the puzzled look on my face, and I was informed about the symbolic nature of long NOODLES.


Oh dear. I had cut some of the NOODLES before she managed to eat any. I quickly scooped up the short NOODLES and replaced them with fresh, long ones. And against my better judgement and experience as a mother, I let Ella eat the rest of the long NOODLES, and she was in heaven! Anytime Mom lets food be fun is great, of course.


I sat nice and close to supervise the eating, and we giggled a lot together as she manoeuvered the long, slippery NOODLES. My husband took these photos to remind me of the time I almost blew Ella’s first Chinese New Years (there are some short noodles on her bib, but we picked up the rest and replaced them with ones that would ensure a long, healthy life)!

Somehow along the way, her nickname became NOODLE, and we still affectionately call her that today.

Oh, mealtime is always an adventure!

Here’s Ella today doing the ASL sign for NOODLES:

And the ASL sign for HORSE:

Happy Lunar New Year to your family from ours!