It is the year of the yang—which in some roman languages is translated as goat, and in some as sheep. There is a great debate over this, with westerners wrassling over the connotations! Cuddly! Voracious! Poofy! Head-butting! And some approaches of course get downright silly.
But in China much of this debate is relegated to simply scratching-of-the-head status, since the word "yang" in mandarin means both sheep and goat. And you know why? Because it is not just between cute vs eats-anything-including-cans. Because many of these creatures look like THIS:
The badass bighorn sheep. Which I have been lucky enough to see in the wild once, albeit it from such a distance that it was mostly a climbing leaping dot on the side of a mountain far away, where for two minutes I had to say, "Is that one? Is it?? Yes it is! No wait... No, yes!!"
A dear friend of my mother's, Marilyn Wagner, makes Chinese zodiac magnets every year to celebrate the lunar new year. I seem to have lost my yang one (or rather my toddler did as he loves them). But here is a photo of my favorite by her, year of the rat. I'm partial to it as it is both my year and my mother's:
Top photo from nytimes.com, taken by Credit Philippe Lopez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Bottom photo from hdwallpapersnew.net, no photographer credited (bad form)