Monday, January 4, 2021

Celebrating the Chinese New Year: Year of the (Metal) Ox

Oxen Resting
John Singer Sargent, 1910

On February 12, 2021 the Chinese New Year begins and 2021 is the Year of the (Metal) Ox. The New Year is celebrated for 16 days and ends with the Lantern Festival.

Women Oxen are traditional, faithful wives, who attach great importance to their children's education. There are five types of Ox: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. This year falls under the Metal Ox and their traits also include hardworking, active, always busy, and popular among friends. For more information go to:

According to the Chinese people born in the Year of the Ox have the following personality traits:

Oxen are known for diligence, dependability, strength, and determination. Having an honest nature. They are strongly patriotic, have ideals and ambitions for life, and attach importance to family and work. These reflect traditional conservative characteristics.

At the end of this blog, you also will find links to previous blogs highlighting the different animals of the Chinese Zodiac, each offering additional background information.  

Whether or not this is your year under the Chinese Zodiac I wish everyone a New Year filled first and foremost with health and may you be blessed with all good things to keep you safe and happy. May we all find ourselves together once more as we meet 2021 with renewed hope.


The Ox and the Ant - Bulgaria


At one time, the ant was so huge that it could pull the yoke of the ox alone. She wanted to plow the ox with his plow instead, to work, and to provide food for himself. "You can't feed people!" The ox told her. "The Lord has assigned this work to me." "You do not want such a fate," replied the ant. "Because your master stitches you with a wall in your back to walk in the groove, and you cannot even make a step forward alone without a master, while I belong only to myself - I have no master."


At that time the Lord God was walking around the earth and all the animals were free to approach him and to complain to him about something or to make a request to him. That's why the ant and the ox came to him to complain about each other. "God!" Said the ox. "The ant wants to take down my yoke and plow with the plow you gave me to feed myself and the people." "This is not the job, Lord!" Said the ant - "I want to provide food for people because they can't do it well enough. "


Then the Lord turned to the ant and said to her, "I know you are hardworking, but let's see! Tell me, when you replace an ox, how many times a day will you give people to eat thanks to your work? "" I will give them to eat once every three days, "replied the ant. The Lord then addressed the same question with an ox. "And how many times will you give people to eat?" "They will be able to eat three times a day, although I work slowly, I will still be able to satisfy their food needs." Then the Lord blessed the ox: "You will feed the people of the earth while the world is shining! "

Then the Lord turned to the ant. "To work forever and never see the fruits of your labor!" To remember their sentence well, the Lord ordered the ox to step on the ant and walk on its back. Then the ox's hooves split as the back of the ant began to narrow. Up to that point, the ox's hooves were as full as the horse's, and the back of the ant was not as narrow and thin as it is today. And so now the ox still feeds all of us, because with such a destiny God has blessed it. And people should eat three times a day and the food will not benefit the one who eats more than three times a day. The ant would have been so huge if the ox had not crushed it so much, breaking the hoof on her back.


Babe the Blue Ox – United States

The Cart Without Oxen – Costa Rica

The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl - China

The Four Oxen and the Lion - Aesop

Great Joy the Ox - India

The Ox and the Frog – Aesop

The Ox of the Wonderful Horns - Zimbabwe

The Ox Who Never Envied the Pig - Jakarta

The Oxen and the Butchers - Aesop

The Oxen and the Pig - Jakarta

The Straw Ox - Ukraine

The Three Oxen – Somalia (A variant on the Aesop Fable, The Four Oxen and the Lion)  


Interesting background articles to help round out your storytelling program.

How Oxen Plowed the Way for Social Inequality

Ox, cow and bull in folklore imagery and tales

The Tale of the Ox


Paper Cup Ox

Printable Craft Projects for the Year of the Ox – Year of the Ox


Alphabet Letter X Ox Theme: Preschool Lesson Plan with printable activities and worksheets.

Ox-Cart Man – The curriculum is based on the book and is designed for grades
2 -3. This lesson received the 2020 Curriculum Gold Award of Excellence from the National Association of Economic Educators.


Below are previous blog posts I wrote for the Chinese New Year. You will find useful background information to augment your Chinese New Year programs.

Year of the Fire Rooster|

Year of the Horse

Year of the Pig

Year of the Rat

Year of the Sheep

Year of the Snake

Year of the Tiger 

Gung Hay Fat Choy



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Karen Chace 2021 ©

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