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Lunar New Year: How the Year of the Rat is inspiring design trends

A throw pillow, phone case, shoe and figurines, all rat-themed.

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:

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For the nursery

A painting of a pink-cheeked gray rat, sitting up with paws together.
Baby rat print, part of artist Cass Loh’s baby animal series, $93 at Minted.com
(Minted )

Eye-catching tote

Tory Burch’s Rita the Rat Bag.
Tory Burch handbag, inspired by the Lunar New Year, $498 at ToryBurch.com.
(Tory Burch)

Elevate those envelopes

A stamp featuring an origami-rat design and the phrase “the chens.”
The origami stamps, 20 for $36.99 by artist Tracy Wagner at Minted.com, are recognized by the U.S. Postal service and can be used for mail originating in the United States.
(Minted)

Accent wall

Wallpaper with rows of rats
Rat pack wallpaper, $60 by DianasCraftingCorner at Spoonflower.com
(Spoonflower)

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Double take

Black-and-white rat-adorned throw pillow.
White Rats print on pillow cover by Meduzy, $37 at Spoonflower.com
(Spoonflower)

Golden touch

The golden Baccarat Zodiac lead crystal rat
Baccarat Zodiac lead crystal rat, $320 at Nordstrom.com
(Nordstrom)

For the journey ahead

Cell phone case featuring a rat carrying a bindle.
Muroidea Rat Tarot-inspired iPhone case, $35.99 by Midio at Society6.com
(Society6)

Step into the new year

A white slip-on shoe with cartoon rat designs.
Year of the Rat women’s classic (and super comfy) slip ons by Toms, $54.95 at Toms.com
(John Duarte / TOMS)

Rest easy

A white rat is the centerpiece of this floral comforter.
A white rat — with the pinkest ears and nose — adorns this watercolor floral comforter, $119.99 by Olechka at Society6.com
(Society6)

At hand

A zipper pouch with a cartoon rat and an “I’m not evil” speech bubble.
This Rats Aren’t Evil carryall pouch is by artist and designer Sophie Corrigan, $16.99, at Society6.com
(Society6)

Say cheese

A plush rat with a box like a wedge of Swiss cheese.
This jaunty fellow comes with his own box, $44 by Maileg at RoseandRex.com.
(Rose and Rex)


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