by Alex Butova, the Witch of Herbs and Cats
Alexandra Butova is our columnist, journalist, and photographer, living in Riga, Latvia. She has has been with TopTropicals since Day One (2002), writing about magic plants, travel, and of course cats - from the CatNation she belongs to. Alex is in charge of TopTropicals.ru website.
"...Blooming flowers bring wealth..." - Chinese proverb
2021 - the Year of the Metal Ox (Yin Metal Cow), according to Chinese zodiac, starting from Feb. 12, 2021. Yin Metal is related to jewelry, precious gemstone, or golden. 2021 is called the Golden Ox year. The Cow is also called "the storage room of the gold". That implies the good opportunity to earn extra income is coming. That also is the sign of flaunting your wealth or property.
Ox used to be a capable farming tool in an agricultural society, which attach to the symbol of diligence, persistence, and honesty. Ox is very hardworking and methodical. 2021 is going to be a year when work will get rewarded, for those who will make a considerable effort. This is going to be a year when we will fully feel the weight of our responsibilities, a year when it is necessary to double our efforts to accomplish anything at all.
The color of Metal is white in Chinese Five Elements; the lucky color of 2021 flowers is going to be white and golden. Besides white, we have the lucky colors of the Ox: yellow and green, colors that, in Feng Shui, attract prosperity and success.
Year of Discipline. To increase your luck, wear metal accessories, and get white and golden flowers. This year, no explosive or catastrophic events will occur, so it is a favorable year for economic recovery or consolidation. 2021 is a year when all the problems get solved with discipline. A lot of discipline! Obviously, with an extra effort from us in organizing our time...
In China, the zodiac system calculations are quite complicated. The 60-year cycle consists of two separate cycles interacting with each other. The first is the cycle of ten heavenly stems, namely the five elements (in order Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water) in their yin and yang forms - masculine and feminine essence.
The second is the cycle of the twelve zodiac animal signs or Earthly Branches. They are in order as follows: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
This combination creates the 60-year cycle due to the fewest years (least common multiple) it would take to get from Yang Wood Rat to its next iteration, which always starts with Yang Wood Rat and ends with Yin Water Pig.
Since the zodiac animal cycle of 12 is divisible by two, every zodiac sign can occur only as either yin or yang: Dragon is always yang, Snake is always yin, etc. The current cycle began in 1984.
When trying to traverse the lunisolar calendar, an easy rule to follow is that years that end in an even number are yang, those that end with an odd number are yin. The cycle proceeds as follows:
If the year ends in 0 it is Yang Metal.
If the year ends in 1 it is Yin Metal.
If the year ends in 2 it is Yang Water.
If the year ends in 3 it is Yin Water.
If the year ends in 4 it is Yang Wood.
If the year ends in 5 it is Yin Wood.
If the year ends in 6 it is Yang Fire.
If the year ends in 7 it is Yin Fire.
If the year ends in 8 it is Yang Earth.
If the year ends in 9 it is Yin Earth.
However, since the traditional Chinese zodiac follows the lunisolar Chinese calendar, the switch-over date is the Chinese New Year, not January 1 as in the Gregorian calendar. Therefore, a person who was born in January or early February may have the sign of the previous year. For example, if a person was born in January 1970, his or her element would still be Yin Earth, not Yang Metal. Similarly, although 1990 was called the year of the Horse, anyone born from January 1 to January 26, 1990, was in fact born in the Year of the Snake (the sign of the previous year), because the 1990 Year of the Horse did not begin until January 27, 1990.
The current year 2021 is Yin - female year, and for this reason its symbol is the Metal Cow – not Ox! The color of Metal year is White, but any metal in China is associated with gold. As a result, it turns out that the symbol of 2021 is the White Cow with a Golden udder!
In Chinese culture, a Cow is a valuable animal. The representatives of this sign are honest and sincere, they do not seek praise and do not seek be the focus. Their talent is often hidden, but they gain recognition thanks to his perseverance and hard work. Without extra pathos they do what they need and have not a finger in every pie.
A Ox (Cow) is quiet and easy-going. Practical and self-confidence they are often successful. They like to work to a carefully thought out plan. They are also patriotic. As they are not outspoken they can be difficult to read and so easy to misunderstand and provoke to anger. Rarely losing a temper, they think logically and make great leaders.
Therefore, 2021 will be a turbulent year for this sign. They may encounter unexpected challenges, especially in a career and studies, which can leave them feeling stressed out, distracted, and emotional.
The Heavenly Stem Xin of 2021 belongs to Metal, which will help the Cow to some extent. The key to overcoming any potential bad luck is to strengthen a morale.
Use this time to cultivate your relationships. With the support of your family and friends, you will likely manage to navigate any difficulties and gain a deeper appreciation for what you have.
Plants take a special place in our life - even when we don't notice it. But for a Cow plants mean more, much more... Grass and flowers give it food and strength, they make Сow tender and sensitive, like all of us...
In China, the flower symbolizing the Cow is a white peony mudan (Paeonia suffruticosa). It is one of China's favorite floral symbols.
Chinese New Year lucky flowers bring in health, wealth, fame, and fortune. These are the most popular of Heavenly Cow plants:
Lychee. Plum and red, their round shape brings wholeness and stability and is a symbol of great fortune. They also show close family ties when gifted and help build a stronger relationship among friends and family.
Kumquat. This shrubs are indoor plants that bring wealth into the house. They are vibrant and require very little upkeep. They are also given as gifts to friends and family.
Jade (Crassula ovata). With emerald leaves shaped in jade, these house plants attract wealth and are a common sight in China. There are various jade plant species.
Lemon. The simplest among all the fruits, lemons wardoff negative vibes and fight the bad eye. Its tangy flavor, and bright yellow color brings in happiness and glory to the household. It is also used extensively in cooking.
As it has many seeds, it is said to signify abundance and can be used in different contexts and needs of the family. The red color of the fruit shows the potential for happiness, and the seeds are hope.
And the last but not least - a plant that is called - Cow Udder (Solanum mammosum)!
Solanum mammosum is commonly known as Nipple Fruit, Cow's udder, or Apple of Sodom, is an unedible American tropical fruit. The plant is grown for ornamental purposes, in part because of the distal end of the fruit's resemblance to a human breast, while the proximal end looks like a cow's udder. It is an annualin the family Solanaceae, and part of the genus Solanum, making the plant a relative of the eggplant, tomato, and potato. This plant is native to South America, but has been naturalized in Southern Mexico, Greater Antilles, Central America, and the Caribbean.
This is an erect tropical shrub growing up to 4" tall. The deeply lobed leaves have long spikes on its surface. Hairy thorns cover the stem and branches of the plant. The inflorescence contains five to eight purple elongating buds.The fruit is a round yellow berry with numerous brownish-red seeds in it.
Folkloric uses of the plant range from treating asthma with a root decoction, to curing athlete's foot epidermophytosis, fungal foot disease) by rubbing leaf juices on the skin. Although these medical uses are not widely practiced and vary through cultures, they are an explanation for why this plant has been cultivated.
The juice of the fruits can be used as a detergent in place of a washing powder, making it similar to the soap nut. The indigenous people of Colombia and Ecuador use the plant as an insect repellent, primarily against cockroaches.
Although the fruits are poisonous, it can be cooked and eaten like a vegetable when it is unripe. It provides a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B. One way that the fruits can be prepared is boiling the whole fruits and drinking the juices once boiled. In the Philippines, not only is the fruits eaten, but the leaves are also prepared as a tea considered to be anodyne, a mild narcotic.
Solanum mammosum fruits has been embraced by Eastern cultures. It is primarily used as decorative foliage for religious and festival floral arrangements in Asia. The fruit is imported for the creation of Chinese New Year trees, due to their golden colored fruit and the belief that the five "fingers" on the fruit represent longevity for the family.
Fruiting branches can be used in tropical cut flower arrangements. And of course, such Golden Udder will undoubtedly decorate the beautiful White Cow of 2021.