It's coming on February 7 -- The Year of the Rat. Though we tend to think of the rodents in disparaging ways, they're highly valued for their courage and enterprising
ways. They're known to be clever, bright, sociable
and family-oriented. (Rats reproduce with abandon and perceived to be rather lusty creatures!) Their interested are diverse and they are very nimble, able to adapt and react to changing conditions.
(In Vietnam, the cuter mouse is the animal associated with this astrological sign. However, since most Asians celebrating the Lunar New Year go with the Chinese preference, I'm using the rat. The animals are close relatives.)
Those attributes will either warm the cockles of your heart or conjure up images of the Brookdale Institute in Killer Rats, a 2003 movie (see the trailer). Just kidding...
Actually, some of the dear people in my life are rats, and this is THEIR year. They should feel extra special having accomplished another full cycle of life. Famous rats you may know include: Alyssa Milano, Cameron Diaz, Charlotte Bronte, Daryl Hannah, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lauren Bacall, Margaret Mitchell, Margot Kidder, Mata Hari, Olivia Newton-John, and Stevie Nicks.
In general, rats were born in: 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008. Remember because the Lunar calendar shifts around, people with January or February birthdays may be on the cusp.
Rats are in a generally unspoken part of the Vietnamese culinary repertoire. They are eaten in Vietnam, as they are in other parts of of Southeast Asia and India. They are a protein source. In fact, at BackwoodsBound.com, you'll find typical American recipes for squirrel and the raccoon.
In 2004 when the Bird Flu was scaring people from eating chicken, rats were fetching quite a pretty penny in Cambodia. People of my parents generation recall eating rat. Apparently, the country rats were tastier than city ones.
Enough about rat as food. I'm somewhat superstitious so I always look around for some forecast of the coming year. Here's a little fortune telling that's not so weird and hokey:
Your fortune in the Year of the Rat (Asiaone.com)
Hopefully, the economy and presidential elections won't be so grim!