Home InspirationGo travelling The Year of the Ox could be a boi thing

The Year of the Ox could be a boi thing

by Bernard O'Shea

The first new moon of the lunisolar calendar has shone on us, and thus a lunar new year has begun. Last year was the Year of the Rat, now we are in the Year of the Ox. Time to take the bull by the horns, hey?

The lunar new years usually start some time between late January to mid-February, so if you were born in January of February of the following years, you could be a rat or an ox: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009. Are you an Ox? If so, you are meant to be steady, reliable, strong, trustworthy.

Now you may have thought that the last year or so was horrible, but since I am a Rat, I don’t want to hear any complaints, okay? Remember, Donald Trump (a Dog) got evicted from the White House in the Year of the Rat. And Joe Biden (a Horse) went galloping in. Oxen and Rats are very compatible, according to the Chinese New Year website, which gives a good account of all things Ox here.

Key vocabulary in My Five Romances

An ox, oxen 

A year of the ox sculptureFrench: un bœuf, bœufs
Italian: un bue, buoi
Portuguese: um boi, bois
Romanian: un bou, boi
Spanish: un buey, bueyes

In the countries where these five Romance languages are spoken, probably the ox or boi is most revered in Brazil, particularly in the north and north-east, where it is honoured in festivals that have as much excitement and colour as Carnaval. The most famous ones, held in the last weekend of June, are:

  • Bumba-Meu-Boi in São Luis, the capital of the north-east state of Maranhão
  • Boi-Bumbá in Parintins, a city on the Amazon river about 400km west of Manaus

In São Luis the celebrations take place in the streets of the historic city centre, and in the neighbourhoods, while in Parintins there is a grand production in a purpose-built arena. It’s a face-off between two rival folklore teams, Boi Garantido and Boi Caprichoso. It’s a thrilling spectacle.

Here’s a sample of what you might see in Maranhão.

Related vocabulary in My Five Romances


French: lunaire
Italian: lunare
Portuguese: lunar
Romanian: lunar
Spanish: lunar

A new moon

French: une nouvelle lune
Italian: una luna nuova
Portuguese: uma lua nova
Romanian: o lună nouă (nouă is pronounced like the name Noah)
Spanish: una luna nueva


Looking ahead

Next year will be the Year of the Tiger, starting on February 1, 2022. M5R

Ox artwork: AnnaliseArt/Pixabay

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