Chinese Culture Series: Chinese New Year 2009 Part Ⅰ: The Year of Niu – Chinese Ox Year

Chinese New Year 2009 falls on January 26, 2009 when Chinese twelve-year circle will roll into the year of ox. In Chinese language, ox is pronounced as Niu. Niu, as an animal in general, was playing the role of dragging a plough in field before the invention of modern industrialized farm tools in Chinese history. The image of Niu in Chinese culture is hard-working and down-to-earth so that it is highly respected by Chinese.
When there are different terms, such as ox, bull, cattle, etc., to refer to different species of one kind, there is only one, Niu, for all those terms. And in Chinese there is no special term for beef but just the addition of a word, Rou which means meat in general, to Niu that forms a phrase of Niu Rou. Bull market in Chinese is called Niu Shi with Shi standing for market. Niu is also a family name in China and a commonly used one.
Thanks to the shape of Niu, being strong and muscular, and its powerful moos, Niu has become a new slang frequently used by Chinese young and more and more Chinese of all ages. It, functioning as an adjective, is used to praise a capable person. And in most cases it is used humorously. Particularly, when the year of ox is coming around, Chinese are saying greetings mixing Niu the symbolic animal of the year and Niu the popularly used slang, such as wish you be Niu in the year of Niu, which means wish you a success in the year of ox.

Chinese Culture
HSK Test
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top