There’s nothing smelly about Asian rats

Feb 5, 2008 5:59 AM

The Chinese New Year celebration kicks off for 15 days this week, marking the Year of the Rat in the lunar-based Chinese zodiac.

Unfortunately for Westerners, the "year of the rat" may not sound like the most festive of events. After all, in our culture a "rat" is often a fink or traitor, a deserter and a scab or strikebreaker.

And when has "I smell a rat" ever referred to a person you’d want to snuggle up to?

In reality, people born in the year of the rat are often the most ambitious and hard working, according to Chinese tradition.

Moreover, "rat" people are usually successful because of their dedication to work, their high energy levels and expert organizational skills.

Loyal and loving, those born in the year of the rat also inspire loyalty in others who are close to them.

If you’re wondering about these special rat people, they are born every 12 years under the lunar calendar. Thus, if you were born in 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984 and 1996, then you were born under the sign of the rat.

Famous people born in the year of the rat include Plato, William Shakespeare, Wolfgang Mozart, George Washington, Truman Capote, Charlotte Bronte and, most recently, rap star Eminem and actress Scarlett Johansson.

And, unless you’ve been living in a vacuum bottle, you would never confuse Scarlett Johansson as a "dirty rat."