Years ago, my knowledge of the Chinese Zodiac was limited to the paper placements that I saw in Chinese restaurants. It was fun to look up your zodiac sign, even though you’d already discovered it on the last several visits. We’d excitedly say, “What are you? What are you?!” as each family member or friend revealed the animal they were. “I’m a rabbit! I’m a monkey!” people would shout. As a chubby kid in grade school, I wasn’t super happy to shout out my sign and have to reveal, “I’m a pig!” But I’ve always loved actual pigs and thought they were cute, so I was secretly thrilled. Although the information was meager on those little placements, I later learned that men born in this year are thought to be optimistic, gentle, though not the best when it comes to money. They can be rather unfocused and seem lazy in some ways, but once they set a goal, they put everything that they have into accomplishing it. They don’t spend time in a lot of social conversations, but treat everyone warmly and this creates a large and loyal social circle. Many of those are rather nice traits, and if my paper placement had mentioned them, I would have shown a bit more pride to be a pig.
The pig is actually the twelfth and last of all the zodiac animals. According to myth, the Jade Emperor decided the order according to the order in which each animal arrived to his party. The pig overslept. This meant he showed up last and is henceforward the last sign of the zodiac. Interestingly, the Western Zodiac tells me that I’m an Aries, symbolized by a ram and it’s the very first animal in the zodiac. So, I’m literally coming in first and last place simultaneously, which on further reflection, explains quite a lot about my crazy life. Rams are adventurous, hopeful, generous, and curious to name a few things attributed to this sign. Those are the lovely traits, but they are also seen as impulsive, naïve, and impatient. The latter is actually quite true, of course, but I guess the positive traits balance everything out. Unless one spends a good deal of time studying these zodiac traits from either side of the world, it really just boils down to a mix of adjectives. These could easily apply to just about everyone, given the day, but having them applied to me personally combined with an animal mascot makes me really want to believe they perfectly describe me.
In truth, I’ve no idea if everyone born in a particular month or year possesses unique similarities. What I loved about the Chinese Zodiac as a kid was that it brought us all together in a fun and loving way. We weren’t just out to a lovely dinner, we were learning more about each other and giggling at the outcome. While I love Kung Pao chicken, it tasted even better after enjoying those little placemats. And beyond simply enjoying food, I got to take a moment to cherish the people who were eating it with me. A fun reminder that though we all have wonderful things in common, it’s equally fun to explore our differences. In those moments, I felt unique and wonderful. If you’re wondering, Philippe is a Rat. Since Ratatouille is my favorite Pixar movie, the idea that I ended up marrying a Parisian rat is rather awesome somehow. Our dog Phineas is a Rat as well, so I’m rather outnumbered in my household. Though I’m not sure the zodiac applies to dogs, and quite sure Phineas would have no interest if it did. But, for me, I’m rather happy and lucky to celebrate 2019, and enjoy the fact that I was once born in the Year of the Pig.
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Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone Red, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Click Here!
Creator of Doodlewash®, founder of World Watercolor Month (July), World Watercolor Group™, and host of the Sketching Stuff Podcast. Sharing daily watercolor illustrations and stories while proudly featuring talented artists from all over the world! If you’d like to be a guest artist on Doodlewash.com, contact me!