Today is the first day of the lunar calendar – or Chinese New Year. However, I do not personally know any Chinese. I do, however, have two great friends of mine who are Vietnamese, so we say “Chuk-mun-nam-moi” – or Happy Vietnamese New Year!

Thus begins the Year of the Rat – which is my and many of my friends zodiac sign. When the girls found out I was a Rat, Linna exlaimed, “Ooooohh! That’s good! Rat’s are really smart – the Rat won the race!” Then she started to explain the story of the Jade Emperor’s race:

Many centuries ago, the Chinese had no means to measure time. The Yellow Jade Emperor, the Emperor of Heaven, decided to arrange a contest. He invited all animals to a race on his birthday. The first 12 animals who cross the swift current river and reach the designated shore would be assigned to the 12 Zodiac Years.

The cat and the rat, who were once good friends and poor swimmers, convinced the ox to carry them across the river. Being naive, gullible, good-natured, the powerful swimmer ox agreed. As they were crossing the river, the rat was worried that the cat might win the race; so the rat pushed the cat into the river. This explains why cats hate rats, because they never forgave the rat for the incident. Right before the ox and the rat reached the shore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back and took first place in the race.

Now, I don’t know about you, but this seems sneaky and underhanded to me. Smart, maybe. But devious. This also sounds a little like Cat Propaganda – how do we know that the Rat didn’t win fair-and-square and that the Cat started all of these vicious rumors about the Rat to cover up his own athletic or motivational inadequacies? Could be a setup…

Happy New Year, everyone! Wear red, hand out money to children, eat good food, and realize that you have a second chance to restart those New Year’s Resolutions you started to blow last week!