When we usher in the Year of the Rat on Chinese New Year — celebrated Jan. 25 through Feb. 8 — with firecrackers, feasts and traditional gifts, we celebrate the start of a new lunar cycle.
Legend holds that when the Jade Emperor was establishing the order of the 12-year zodiac cycle, he threw a party and told all the animals that their place in the lunar lineup would correspond with their arrival to his event, according to ChineseNewYear.net: The clever rat hitched a ride on the back of the ox and then leaped ahead of the beast when they arrived at the threshold — securing his place for all eternity in the No. 1 spot.
According to zodiac astrology, people born in years of the rat — 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936 — are characterized by optimism, energy and likability. Words such as charming, organized, hardworking, clever and adaptable are used to describe lunar rats. They are also associated with new beginnings, midnight hours and the dawn of a new day.
Here’s a look at how the Year of the Rat is embraced by designers in iPhone cases, fabric prints, fashion accessories and more: