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Celebrate the Year of the Horse at the Asian Art Museum

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The Chinese zodiac – or Shēngxiào – is a calendar system originating in the Han dynasty (206-220BC), which names each of the years in its 12-year cycle after an animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, in that order. According to the system, the universe is made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – which interact with the 12 animals, resulting in the specific character of the year ahead.

Apparently those born in a horse year are not going to have an easy time of it.

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.

If you were born in the year of the horse, you should be looking for potential partners who were born in the years of the tiger, goat or dog. Avoid those born in the year of the rat, ox, rabbit or horse. You won't like them.

If none of this rings true, don't worry. The animal signs of each year merely indicate how others see you or how you choose to present yourself. There are also animal signs for each month, known as inner animals, signs for each day, called true animals, and animals for each hour, or secret animals.

In any case, the Asian Art Museum knows how to bring in the lunar New Year - with a gallop! On Sunday, February 2, admission is free all day. Hear storytellers share Lunar New Year stories, create your own work of art and search for zodiac animals on a treasure hunt through the galleries. Red Panda Acrobats will add to the festivities.

On Feb 9, celebrate the Year of the Horse with students from the Chinese American International School presenting classical music and dance from China to kick off the Lunar New Year. The program ends, as tradition states, with a playful student-arranged version of the lion dance which is believed to scare away evil spirits and ensure a bright beginning to the year.

After the performance, enjoy Amy Ma’s story about Chinese zodiac animals and their characteristics and discover something new about yourself.

With the Year of the Snake slithering into history, they say that the incoming Lunar New Year beginning on Friday is going to be the kind of horse that you shouldn't stand behind -- because it incorporates the volatile element of fire. So watch out for volcanos!

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