Sheep or goat? Confusion over Lunar New Year sign

World Today

With 12 animals in the zodiac, 2015 is said to mark the Year of the Sheep. This might not be the case, with some suggesting it is the year of the goat. CCTV’s Grace Brown reported from Beijing, China.

As the New Year draws closer, businesses are keen to cash in.
Guo Yonghua has been running a toy shop for several years. He said his latest Lunar New Year toys were selling well.

“It’s the Sheep year, so it’s popular to buy sheep toys now. I’ve sold a lot this year,”  he said.

Li Hongye and Wang Liyan believe sheep related items will bring them luck in the new year. Some ambiguity still hovers about which animal will replace the horse in 2015, it’s unclear if these toys represent the Year of the Sheep or year of the goat.

China has more sheep than any other country, 187 million, which is 15 percent of the world’s total. It also has more than 195 million goats, nearly a quarter of the global goat population. The country on the whole though is not as keen on these two animals as the other ones in the zodiac.

Anthropologist Zhao Xudong, director of the Institute of Anthropology at Renmin University said sheep are often considered unlucky in China, particularly for women.

“Some parents delay birth to avoid Sheep years, because it’s considered to be burdened by bad luck. This is partly because Empress Dowager Cixi in the Qing dynasty was born in the Year of the Sheep and brought about policies that stagnated China’s development. All too often, when people confront failures, they attribute it to animal years. Of course there is no scientific evidence to prove this,” Zhao said.

In China, those born in the Year of the Sheep, or goat, are often believed to be mild-mannered, creative and sympathetic; but rarely leaders.

Despite all the negative connotations associated with the Year of the Sheep this year is meant to be slightly more promising, because it’s not just any type of sheep. This is the year of the golden sheep.

Zhao said that the gold element could mean more prosperity for the world economy. “In Chinese culture, three goats or sheep bring bliss and wealth. I believe the gold Sheep may bring more blessings to society, be it greater income, or a new start in life,” he said.

As for whether it is actually the year of the sheep, or goat, Zhao said it is actually the ram. 
Whatever animal it is, the meaning is the same.

CCTV’s Grace Brown compiled this report from Beijing.