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Year of the Tiger

Updated: Jan 25, 2022

February 1st, 2022 - January 21st, 2023

Panthera Africa is the non-profit sanctuary this beautiful creature calls home.

Photo taken and contributed by Juanita Coetzer.

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Known also as the Lunar New Year, our Chinese New Year is exactly what it states: the beginning of a new year in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. Annually, across the globe, more than two billion people celebrate this festival. This year, we say goodbye to the Year of the Ox, and welcome the Year of the Tiger.

"The tiger springs in the new year. Us he devours." - T.S. Eliot, Poet, Playwright, Editor

The recognition of this celebration dates as far back as the Qin Dynasty approximately 200 years BC. The Tiger is the third of the twelve animals personifying the Chinese zodiac. One myth states that the Jade Emperor declared a race to determine where each of the creatures would land within the twelve-year zodiac cycle. The order would be decided according to when each of the animals arrived at the finish line.

Tiger, a most competitive fellow was confident he would place first. He crossed the finish line certain he’d won the raise, only to be told the cunning Rat came first, followed by the assiduous Ox. So, Tiger had to settle for third place.

In the Chinese culture, it is the tiger, not the lion, who is considered the King of the Beasts. As such, emperors and rulers were compared to the tiger, as he is their symbol of power, ferocity, and nobility.

The legend of the very first tiger, is said to have originally been a young boy. He was whipped so many times by his teacher that the boy could not take anymore and escaped into the forest. It was there that his rage transformed him into the tiger, and the whip marks on his skin were displayed in the tiger's stripes .

The two legends above depict Tiger as fiercely competitive, and angry. His strong personality can be described as forceful, at times even terrifying. People are drawn to his vitality, which is almost palpable. Tiger is self-assured, oozing confidence, which can be interpreted as arrogance. A natural born leader, he can struggle with coming across as a dictator, instead of authoritative.

Those born in the Year of the Tiger are seen as brave, ambitious, and daring. Not afraid to take risks, their motto is: “go big, or go home”, which at times can make them impulsive and unpredictable.

In the wild, they are solitary animals, which applies to people born in the Year of the Tiger, who tend to need personal space. As individuals, they stand tall and independent, their commanding yang energy often misunderstood, causing others to proceed with caution.

Underneath their austere exterior, lies an extremely generous soul. Tigers in the wild are vigilant and nurturing mothers. This applies to the people they represent, who are tireless in their quest when fired by passion. Their potent sense of justice is guided by a moral compass, which galvanizes their commitment to make the world a better place.

Their strong sense of value can make them seem unbendable. They like things done their way and do not appreciate being told otherwise. They speak and walk their truth loudly and boldly.

Tiger has the distinction of protection. In Chinese myth, the universe is guarded in each direction by a tiger. A blue tiger in the east, a black tiger in the north, a white tiger in the west and a red tiger in the south. In its center is a golden tiger who rules overall.

Not only do they protect, they also have supposed power to devour evil spirits. So much so that tiger effigies were placed on graves. In addition, images of the tiger are used as charms by gamblers as tiger is believed to guard money. Parents consider tiger as a patron deity for children. To this day you see Chinese babies and children wearing hats and shoes designed with tiger images for good luck.


Famous Tigers

1902 – Margaret Hamilton & Meyer Lansky

1914 – Hedy Lamar & Joe Louis

1926 – Marilyn Monroe & Fidel Castro

1938 – Natalie Wood & Elliot Gould

1950 – Mary Hart & Stevie Wonder

1962 – Demi Moore & Tom Cruise

1974 – Eva Mendes & Leonardo DiCaprio

1986 – Lady Gaga & Robert Pattinson

1998 – Shawn Mendes & Elle Fanning

2010 – Brooklynn Prince & Paxton Booth



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