It is the Year of the Rat (or as I prefer… the Mouse – it’s cuter!) and apparently people born in this zodiac sign work hard, are good at saving money, diligent and positive! Not very ratty, hey?
Starting any year on the right foot is a crucial skill here in rocking Vietnam. Particularly that custom of who comes to your house first from the beginning of the New Lunar Year and the next day and the day after that. Then come the gifts and visits to the temples and pagodas, the praying for good luck and of course, checking your own luck!
While I know most Vietnamese claim not to take their yearly horoscope too seriously, I’m willing to bet that privately they definitely will stress out over this. You’ll need to be careful how you deal with the horse from down the road or the rooster at work or even that possible romantic interest that could be anything from a tiger to a dog. It’s a bit of a zoo, isn’t it?
Regardless of which rodent we’re talking about (mouse vs rat), it’s interesting how differently we perceive the characteristics of them and then apply that to human personalities.
In the West we think of rats as sneaky, pesky nuisances to be poisoned and thrown away. In Vietnam, they eat them! For a lot of foreigners, they are a symbol of disease, darkness and disaster. For the locals, they have an interesting interpretation in the Vietnamese zodiac as a shrewd, hardworking, highly opportunistic and determined character. Much like the Vietnamese themselves!
The rat (I mean mouse…) goes first in the zodiac 12-year cycle as we start the third decade of the 21st century. I hope that’s significant in a good way! Although most of us don’t believe in horoscopes and even less in Eastern zodiac horoscopes it’s still fun to check them out, so in case you’re wondering and you happen to know your Vietnamese birth year – here’s a quick rundown.
The Mouse: A tough year coming – stay calm and keep your mind on the job. The Ox: You’ll get a few of your best dreams come true – it’s all good for you!
The Tiger: A smooth year with most things going to plan – a happy year.
The Cat: A difficult year coming up – unpredictable with obstacles but you won’t lose much.
The Dragon: Fabulous times ahead – don’t work too hard and be realistic.
The Snake: A tough year for money and watch out for tricky people – do a lot of planning first!
The Horse: Preparation is the key to 2020 – expect setbacks but keep dreaming forward.
The Goat: Good relationships in love and business will help – beware of strangers involving money.
The Monkey: Things will go your way but don’t take your luck or lifestyle for granted! The Rooster: Good luck will happen but you’ll have to fight for your rights and have some courage.
The Dog (that’s me!): A very lucky year however it’s all in the planning and organization that works.
The Pig: A much better year coming – a great time for new things; study – new job – new friends.
I think if you think like a mouse, then it’s all good. Mice go around obstacles, discover new paths, are prepared to move if the opportunities are not there, like living in groups but search individually, watch patiently for the right moment and avoid threats easily.
Although the challenges for Vietnam in 2020 haven’t changed that much; urbanization, pollution, climate change, traffic and modernizing the nation – I do believe things always get better with more education, more awareness and willingness to learn from outside influences; since mice like exploring and trying new things – so too the nation.
I sense that 2020 will be an innovative year for Vietnamese progress. Certainly, the nation has very little to lose by encouraging start-ups, allowing private enterprises more room to compete alongside the state industries. But much of this topic is too big to discuss in this article so I’ll be commenting on that in another feature soon.
And as for us ordinary folk? Well, it’s a no-brainer to understand that you only get as much as you’re willing to put in. Any year can be fabulous if you try hard and have the support of good friends and business partners. It’s only our fears and hang-ups that hold us back. Now I know it’s all too easy to say ‘get over it and move on’ or ‘stop being afraid’ but that’s what mice do! A mouse might back off when faced with an immediate threat but it never stops looking for another way to get to the prize.
So in this amazing, awesome, and very possibly serendipitous Year of the Mouse – get out there and make the most of it. There’s a delicious chunk of cheese waiting for you at the end!