Celebrating the ox
The Year of the Ox is coming. In China, you will find various ox figures made of gold, wood, plastic, paper, shell and stone on sale in stores and on streets to celebrate the return.
But why was the ox chosen to be one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs?
Centuries ago, most people earned their living through farming. The ox was used to help plow, cultivate and carry heavy goods.
The ox has long had a significant place in Chinese culture. Ancient Chinese poets and writers frequently described the ox in literature. In the Classic of Poetry, the oldest existing collection of Chinese poetry, the animal was mentioned in nine out of the 305 pieces.
The ox is considered a symbol of diligence and earnestness in Chinese culture. To this day, the phrase "the spirit of ox" still refers to conquering anything that may present itself as an obstacle. The spirit is highly praised and many people follow it as their work ethic. When someone achieves a great accomplishment through hard work, people often use "niu", meaning "awesome", to describe him or her.
Oxen seldom bully the weak or fear the strong. They work hard and make sacrifices.
This is reflected in a couplet from a poem by Lu Xun (1881－1936): "Fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing fingers; Head bowed, like a willing ox I serve the children", which fully expresses the poet's loyalty to the people.
So naturally, those who were born in the Year of the Ox are often expected to be hardworking, reliable and loyal. "They never seek to be the center of attention and do not look for praise," the website China Highlights noted.