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Ploughing Through: The Year of the Ox

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

Written by WillowWood's Steve Taylor

According to one Chinese myth, the Jade Emperor (the Emperor in Heaven) ordered a race contested by animals. The twelve that arrived first would be selected as the signs of the zodiac and their order would be determined by their placing in the race. On the morning of the contest, the rat convinced the ox to give him a ride. In exchange, the rat would sing for the ox along the way. The dutiful, kind, and earnest ox agreed, and off they went. The ox led the pack towards the finish and looked to become the first sign when the rat jumped off and slid in front to win the race. Consequently, Rat became the first Chinese zodiac sign, followed by Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and finally Pig. In another variation of the legend, the cat had also convinced the Ox to give it a ride but was pushed into the water by the rat when the threesome crossed a river. The cat eventually drowned, and it is said that this is the reason cats hunt rats and why they dislike water.

2020, the year of the Rat, certainly had some tricks up its sleeve. The coronavirus blindsided us all and political and societal unrest did little to help. Managing our lives had indeed become…tricky. So, what might 2021 have in store for us?

According to, because the ox has, and continues to play a valuable role in agriculture, it is often attributed with positive characteristics such as honesty, diligence, and dependability. “Oxen are hardworking, low key, and never look for praise...” (So far so good) “The energy of the ox is slow, indicating that progress will be slow” (Progress that lasts and is meaningful is usually slow, so no surprise here) “They think logically, rarely lose their temper, and make great leaders.” (I think we could use some of that right now).

Happy New Year! WillowWood wishes you and yours a great year ahead. Let’s don our yokes and plough through.


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