If you’re a TEFL teacher in China and you’re lucky enough to be in the country during the winter holiday season, you’ll be able to experience New Year’s day not once but twice. Firstly on the 1st January which is celebrated worldwide, for which you get one public holiday off. And secondly, because China also follows the traditional lunar calendar, they celebrate Chinese New Year between late January and mid-February on the Western Gregorian Calendar. The date for the Spring Festival as it is also called (signaling the imminent arrival of Spring), changes with each year and this year it falls on the 25th of January. It’s the most important time of the year in China where festivities last for about a couple of weeks and you get 7 public holidays off. It’s time to rejoice. The Chinese zodiac 2020, by the way, is ‘rat’. Which is not as bad as it sounds (for Western ears). Check it out!

This post is a friendly gift of our friends from InstantMandarin. They provide the best Mandarin lessons you can have. It is also part of our awesome benefits package for TEFL teachers.

What can you expect during Chinese New Year?

First and foremost Chinese New Year is about family. You will witness one of the largest human migration in the whole world as native Chinese travel with or back to their families and loved ones. It’s a joyous occasion and many popular tourist spots around China will be flocked with people as families enjoy their time together. There will be fewer people in the inner city but you can still see almost every street filled with the auspicious red colors of hanging red lanterns and lights. As soon as you walk into a shopping mall or a store you will be able to hear the lyrics ‘gong xi ni fa cai’ and you’ll be able to sing it in a few minutes, the song is that infectious. Many families will also gather at home and on Chuxi (New Year’s Eve) will watch the Spring Festival Gala to countdown and bring in the new year.

Local traditionschinese zodiac 2020

Traditionally, locals will wish each other good luck, good health, and prosperity for the year ahead and give out lucky red envelopes with cash inside – called hongbao. Some will head out together to decorated temple fairs to worship the Gods and bless the coming year. In some areas, you might even see a lively and dramatic dragon dance to celebrate in great style. You will almost definitely see people eat a lot of dumplings, as it is believed that the more dumplings you eat the wealthier you will become, so now you know what to order. And is there a more representative food of the Chinese New Year occasion than the charming sweet rice ball deserts, Tangyuan, which have come to symbolize the reunification of the family and are a customary delight. Then as many people return to work, the festivities climax on the 15th day of the new lunar year with the visual and illuminating spectacle of the lantern festival.

The Chinese Zodiac: 2020 is the Year of the Rat

The Chinese Zodiac was created over 2000 thousand years ago as a consequence of the first Emperor of China’s creation of the Lunar Calendar, matching 12 animals to a 12-year cycle. Each animal embodies different character traits and represents a year. 2020 is the year of the rat, and the rat is the first animal in the cycle as we shall see, so the cycle is reborn this year and after another 12 years, it will be the year of the rat again. Quite similar to Western astrological star signs, the Chinese Zodiac is a culturally fascinating part of Chinese culture and is still adhered to today. For those with superstitions, it is still used to predict the fortunes of the coming year with regards to many aspects of life, wealth, health, careers, relationships and much more.

Let’s find out which animal you are… The first of our Chinese zodiac 2020 is:

1. Ratchinese zodiac 2020

Recent years
1936 (Jan.24.1936 – Feb.10.1937), 1948 (Feb.10.1948 – Jan.28.1949), 1960 (Jan.28.1960 – Feb.14.1961), 1972 (Feb.15.1972 – Feb.02.1973), 1984 (Feb.02.1984 – Feb.19.1985), 1996 (Feb.19.1996 – Feb.06.1997), 2008 (Feb.06.2008 – Jan.25.2009), 2020(Jan.25.2020 – Feb.11.2021).

Best compatibility: Ox, Dragon, Monkey

Characteristics: Adaptable, smart, charming, cautious, stingy, positive, flexible, outgoing, cheerful, quick-witted, timid, unstable, stubborn, picky, greedy

2. Oxox

Recent years
1937 (Feb.11.1937 – Jan.30.1938), 1949 (Jan.29.1949 – Feb.16.1950), 1961 (Feb.15.1961 – Feb.04.1962), 1973 (Feb.03.1973 – Jan.22.1974), 1985 (Feb.20.1985 – Feb.08.1986), 1997 (Feb.07.1997 – Jan.27.1998), 2009 (Jan.26.2009 – Feb.13.2010), 2021 (Feb.11.2021 – Jan.31.2022).

Best compatibility: Rat, Monkey, Rooster, snake

Characteristics: Honest, patient, creative, industrious, hardworking, level-headed, strong-willed, persistent, handle things steadily but can be inarticulate and distant.

3. Tigertiger

Recent years
1938 (Jan.31.1938 – Feb.18.1939), 1950 (Feb.17.1950 – Feb.05.1951), 1962 (Feb.05.1962 – Jan.24.1963), 1974 (Jan.23.1974 – Feb.10.1975),1986 (Feb.09.1986 – Jan.28.1987), 1998 (Jan28.1998 – Feb.15.1999), 2010 (Feb.14.2010 – Feb.02.2011), 2022 (Feb.01.2022 – Jan.21.2023)

Best compatibility: Dragon, Horse, Pig, Dog

Characteristics: Brave, courageous, loyal, confident, competitive, intelligent, lucky, they would make competent leaders but can be arrogant, hasty, short-tempered, irritable, overindulged.

4. Rabbitrabbit

Recent years
1939 (Feb.19.1939 – Feb.08.1940), 1951 (Feb.06.1951 – Jan.26.1952), 1963 (Jan.25.1963 – Feb.12.1964), 1975 (Feb.11.1975 – Jan.30.1976), 1987 (Jan.29.1987 – Feb.16.1988), 1999 (Feb.16.1999 – Feb.04.2000), 2011 (Feb.03.2011 – Jan.22.2012), 2023(Jan.22.2023 – Feb.09.2024).

Best compatibility: Sheep, Dog, Pig

Characteristics: Kind-hearted, compassionate, gentle, sensitive, modest, amiable, merciful, conservative, timid, hesitant, stubborn, live long, they do not like fighting and try to find compromises.

5. Dragondragon

Recent years
1940 (Feb.09.1940 – Jan.26.1941), 1952 (Jan.27.1952 – Feb.13.1953), 1964 (Feb.13.1964 – Feb.01.1965), 1976 (Jan.31.1976 – Feb.17.1977), 1988 (Feb.17.1988 – Feb.05.1989), 2000 (Feb.05.2000 – Jan.23.2001), 2012 (Jan.23.2012 – Feb.09.2013), 2024 (Feb.10.2024 – Jan.25.2025).

Best compatibility: Rooster, Rat, Monkey

Characteristics: Inspiring, decisive, ambitious, romantic, eccentric, fiery, intolerant, unrealistic and sometimes overconfident

6. Snakesnake

Recent years
1941 (Feb.10.1929 – Jan.29.1930), 1953 (Feb.14.1953 – Feb.02.1954), 1965 (Feb.02.1965 – Jan.20.1966), 1977 (Feb.18.1977 – Feb.06.1978), 1989 (Feb.06.1989 – Jan.26.1990), 2001(Jan.24.2001 – Feb.11.2002), 2013 (Feb.10.2013 – Jan.30.2014), 2025(Jan.29.2025 – Feb.16.2026).

Best compatibility: Dragon, Rooster, Monkey

Characteristics: Humorous, determined, passionate, soft-spoken, smart, sympathetic, jealous, suspicious, lazy, nonchalant and sly.

7. Horsehorse

Recent years
1942 (Feb.15.1942 – Feb.04.1943), 1954 (Feb.03.1954 – Jan.23.1955), 1966 (Jan.21.1966 – Feb.08.1967), 1978 (Feb.07.1978 – Jan.27.1979), 1990 (Jan.27.1990 – Feb.14.1991), 2002 (Feb.12.2002 – Jan.31.2003), 2014 (Jan.31.2014 – Feb.18.2015), 2026 (Feb.17.2026 – Feb.05.2027).

Best compatibility: Tiger, Sheep, Rabbit, Dog

Characteristics: Warm-hearted, easygoing, outgoing, active, independent, positive attitude, frank, lack of persistence, wasteful, they are popular amongst others but can be selfish and over-confident

8. Goat/Sheepgoat

Recent years
1943 (Feb.05.1943 – Jan.24.1944), 1955 (Jan.24.1955 – Feb.11.1956), 1967 (Feb.09.1967 – Jan.29.1968), 1979 (Jan.28.1979 – Feb.15.1980), 1991 (Feb.15.1991 – Feb.03.1992), 2003 (Feb.01.2003 – Jan.21.2004), 2015 (Feb.19.2015 – Feb.07.2016), 2027 (Feb.06.2027 – Jan.25.2028).

Best compatibility: Rabbit, Horse, Pig

Characteristics: Considerate, polite, imaginative, shy, attractive, softhearted, gentle, hardworking, persistent, indecisive, moody, pessimistic

9. Monkeymonkey

Recent years
1944 (Jan.25.1944 – Feb.12.1945), 1956 (Feb.12.1956 – Jan.30.1957), 1968 (Jan.30.1968 – Feb.16.1969), 1980 (Feb.16.1980 – Feb.04.1981), 1992 (Feb.04.1992 – Jan.22.1993), 2004(Jan.22.2004 – Feb.08.2005), 2016 (Feb.08.2016 – Jan.27.2017), 2028 (Jan.26.2028 – Feb.12.2029).

Best compatibility: Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Rat,

Characteristics: Sociable, charismatic, self-assured, innovative, enthusiastic, arrogant. Selfish, jealous, egotistical, suspicious and cunning.

10. Roosterrooster

Recent years
1945 (Feb.13.1945 – Feb.01.1946), 1957 (Jan.31.1957 – Feb.17.1958), 1969 (Feb.17.1969 – Feb.05.1970), 1981 (Feb.05.1981 – Jan.24.1982), 1993 (Jan.23.1993 – Feb.09.1994), 2005 (Feb.09.2005 – Jan.28.2006), 2017 (Jan.28.2017 – Feb.15.2018), 2029 (Feb.13.2029 – Feb.02.2030).

Best compatibility: Ox, Snake, Dragon

Characteristics: Independent, warm-hearted, hardworking, capable, quick-thinking, self-respect, critical, eccentric, selfish, narrow-minded and impatient.

11. Dogdog

Recent years
1946 (Feb.02.1946 – Jan.21.1947), 1958 (Feb.18.1958 – Feb.07.1959), 1970 (Feb.06.1970 – Jan.26.1971), 1982 (Jan.25.1982 – Feb.12.1983), 1994 (Feb.10.1994 – Jan.30.1995), 2006 (Jan.29.2006 – Feb.17.2007), 2018 (Feb.16.2018 – Feb.04.2019), 2030 (Feb.03.2030 – Jan.22.2031).

Best compatibility: Rabbit, Tiger, Horse

Characteristics: Loyal, responsible, honest, clever, have strong sense of responsibility, energetic, sensitive, emotional, stubborn, conservative, cold and self-righteous.

12. Pigpig

Recent years

1947 (Jan.22.1947 – Feb.09.1948), 1959 (Feb.08.1959 – Jan.27.1960), 1971 (Jan.27.1971 – Feb.24.1972), 1983 (Feb.13.1983 – Feb.01.1984), 1995 (Jan.31.1995 – Feb.18.1996), 2007 (Feb.18.2007 – Feb.06.2008), 2019 (Feb.05.2019 – Jan.24.2020), 2031 (Jan.23.2031 – Feb.10.2032).

Best compatibility: Tiger, Rabbit, Sheep

Characteristics: Easygoing, honest, gentle, warm, loyal, naïve, gullible, sincere, trusting, brave, over-reliant, self-indulgent, materialistic, short-tempered

Do any of these sounds like you?

What should a TEFL teacher in China do during Chinese New Year?

It’s time to drop your pen and stop preparing your ESL lesson plans for 5 minutes and check out our Spring Festival tips.

1. Say ‘Xinnian Kuai le, gong xi fa cai’ to a local Chinese. And before you think that we’re tricking you into saying something very silly. It means ‘Happy New Year, wish you wealth and prosperity’.

2. Eat as many dumplings as possible, just maybe you will get rich as a TEFL teacher in China, especially with all the great salary packages we have at TDC. Check them out here.

3. Travel. Yes, we know it is quite a chaotic time to travel but China is so big and there is still plenty to see. Plus it is a great time to be out and about sharing your Chinese New Year experience with the natives.

4. If you’re at home or you’re in a hotel room, turn on the television on Chinese New Year’s Eve and watch the Spring Festival Gala. Tune in like millions across China.

5. On the 15th Lunar calendar, just over two weeks after Chinese New Year, make sure to find a lantern festival near you, and check out the impressive and dazzling light show.

Doesn’t Chinese New Year in China sound amazing and something you want to experience? Well if you’re not in China already and you fancy yourself as a TEFL teacher, we have plenty of TEFL positions available. Check out our jobs board for more info. Or give us a shout at if you have any questions.

Happy Year of the Rat!

We hope you enjoyed our Chinese zodiac 2020 post and you are happy with your zodiac. If you’re interested in teaching English in China, we have plenty of TEFL positions in Sichuan, please check out our Job Board or send us an email at

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