I’ve had several people ask me, and the answer is easy: it’s all of them.
In Chinese, it’s Year of the 羊, and 羊 can refer to either a goat or a sheep. (“Ram” gets thrown in the mix because it sounds cool in English.)
For an interesting and well-written explanation on this, plus a fascinating discussion in the comments, see Year of the Ovicaprid.
Fair warning: I have a degree in linguistics. What is “interesting” and “fascinating” to me might be “incomprehensible” and “nerd-fest” to you.
Since 羊 is ambiguous in Chinese, both goats and sheep get portrayed for New Year’s decorations and paraphernalia. Here’s a sample.
We knew we’d be seeing a lot of this guy, the most famous sheep in all of China, 喜羊羊. Actually, I always thought he was a sheep, but it recently dawned on me that he does in fact have horns, plus, the English name of the cartoon is Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, so, I guess he’s on Team Goat.
Hong Kong Disneyland went with goat…
…but McDonald’s went with Shaun the Sheep.
Here’s a plethora of sheep toys at Walmart. Plus 喜羊羊’s friend 美羊羊 whom I now suspect is also a goat.
The hongbao manufacturers couldn’t decide.
Door decorations were available in both; here’s a goat set.
Whether you choose goat or sheep, it’s apparently not a very lucky zodiac animal. Those who are superstitious tried to make sure their babies were born a few weeks ago, during Year of the Horse. We’ve heard that couples are also waiting to have a baby next year so that their child will be smart and clever since it will be Year of the Monkey.
Fascinating stuff. (Or, okay, nerd-fest.)
I’ll leave you with a special Year of the Goat-Ram-Sheep greeting that I found here.