Significance of the year of the Rat

The Chinese New Year is on 25 January 2020.

It marks the beginning of the lunar new year which is the start of the new moon, this is the reason that Chinese New Year falls at this time every year.

This is different to the 'Gregorian' calendar that we traditionally use in the UK, which always starts on 1 January.

Because it depends on the moon, the date of Chinese New Year actually changes each year, but it will always fall some time between 21 January and 20 February.

In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

So the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle.

The story of the rat

In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus

The Rat is the first of all zodiac animals.

According to one myth, the Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party.

The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride.

Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first.

2018 was the year of the dog, 2019 was the year of the pig and 2020 will be the year of the rat.

The next time it will be the year of the pig again is 2031, 12 years after 2019.