The Chinese reverence of Rats

It may be considered as an insult if one is described as a rat in any other part of the world but not in China. China’s Zodaic signs are covered by twleve animals and’ rat’ is first in the series. People born in a ‘rat year’ are considered to possess attributes of the animal, viz.,cleverness, ambitiousness and they are hardworking and sociable. Legend has it that the rat had shown its superemacy of intellelct over other animals in a race to cross a broad river. It rode on an ‘ox’  back and jumped off to finish first.

As China would start celebrating the New Year which breaks on 7th Feb’008 as the year of the rat, the popularity of the rodents is witnessing an upward trend. Supermarkets are filled with rat and mouse themed jwellery, apparel and knick-knacks and pet stores have reported record sales of namsters and mice.

Animal activist are utilising the opportunity to educate people about the virtues of the rat exhorting them to treat the animal with kindness. Accordng to Asia-Pacific Chapter of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, rats are sociable, intelligent and likeable.They have called for an end to to killing of them in homes and laborataries.

According to some people born in a ‘Rat Year’, it is a misnomer to call it as a ‘Rat Year’ and it should be renamed as ‘Year of Mouse’, as in Chinese, the character used to refer to the animal is ‘shu’ and this word equally applies to ‘Mouse and Rat’.Famous ‘Ray Year’ born personalities include william Shakesphere, Winston Churchil, Hugh Grant and John F.Kennedey Jr.