Today begins the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, we are saying goodbye to the year of the snake (get outta here, snake!) and welcoming the year of the horse. More specifically: each year is also assigned an interaction with one of the Chinese elementals that make up the universe, so this year is the year of the Wooden Horse, which may not have the undertones of Grecian subterfuge in China that it has here.
Those born in the year of each of the 12 animals are said to share personality traits with the animal in the year of which they are born. Chinese mythology has its own set of traits:
People born in the year of the horse are said to be a bit like horses: animated, active and energetic – they love being in a crowd. They are quick to learn independence – foals can walk minutes after birth – and they have a straightforward and positive attitude towards life. They are known for their communication skills and are exceedingly witty.
Here are some more facts about horses that may be instructive when the babies born in 2014 grow up. (The horror. Imagine interacting with someone born in 2014. Let's hope we're all dead before they can talk!)
1. There is only one species of true wild horse (and not domestic horse gone feral) let in the world: the Przewalski's horse, native to the steppes of Mongolia. This implies that most people born in 2014 will in some way be caged and never run free—even if they don't know it.
2. Horses are skittish and scared of everything despite being basically four-legged cars made of muscle. With any luck, even though the babies of 2014 will grow up with Cross-Fit and P90x and that disgusting whey powder stuff my ex-roommate used to drink after workouts, they will remain terrified when us normals do things like walk loudly.
3. Because scientists are frequently bored, some scientists last year decided to see what kind of music horses like. They're fine with classical and country but "displayed nervous behavior" when listening to rock or jazz. This will be an important fact and a potent weapon if we ever have to go to war with babies born in the year of the horse.
4. Intelligence studies have indicated that horses are relatively intelligent, as much as that word means anything (intelligence studies with animals usually just measure how much their brains resemble ours, which doesn't help much when you're talking about, like, a cuttlefish). Lucky we'll be able to defeat the babies of the year of the horse with jazz.
5. Horses are herd animals, which makes the Chinese belief in the independence of those born in the year of the horse a little suspect, scientifically (hoo boy I better stop this line of thought right now). Um, horses are also grazers. Children born in 2014 will eat grass. I don't know. Here's another picture of a horse.