We at VTP would like to shout a big “Chuc mung nam moi!” to all our readers. Did you hear firecrackers go off at midnight? Have you gotten any li xi? (Or worse–have you had to give out any li xi?)
As most Vietnamese will know, 2011 is the Year of the Cat. But if you have Chinese, Korean, Thai or other Asian friends, it’s likely that they’ll wish you a happy year of the rabbit instead. Why is that? The last I checked, cats and rabbits are two distinct species, and cabbits remains the stuff of fiction. So how did Vietnam go about morphing rabbits into cats? Are we the only ones that celebrate the Year of the Cat?
According to Northwest Asian Weekly,
Though there are various explanations of why the cat replaced the rabbit in the Vietnamese zodiac, the most plausible and popular theory suggests that the word for rabbit in Chinese, mao, sounds like the word for cat in Vietnamese. Because the two words sound similar, the Vietnamese may have accidentally written down cat, instead of rabbit, when transcribing the Chinese zodiac.
A transcribing error that changed the course of Vietnamese history and culture? Perhaps, perhaps. Do you have any theories on why Vietnam celebrates the cat instead of the rabbit? Did you study Vietnamese history and know the definite answer? Let us know.
Regardless, have a happy new year–cats, rabbits, and what have you!
OneVietnam will be releasing a new version of the site for the new year soon, so stay tuned for that too.