2015 goat stamp blogsinacomcn 002aouv5gy6Np9g9SJf25&690So, which is it? Is 2015 the Year of the Goat? Year of the Sheep? Year of the Ram?

I’ve had several people ask me, and the answer is easy: it’s all of them.

In Chinese, it’s Year of the , and 羊 can refer to either a goat or a sheep. (“Ram” gets thrown in the mix because it sounds cool in English.)

goat papercut 58pic com 67b58PIC79z_1024For 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 Wolfso, 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.

chunlian huitu com

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.

In this year of the goat, may you 
be proud and exalted in life,
revel in your business success,
have a smooth career path,
and be free from worries.
May you become rich,
and be happy every day!
All photos copyright smalltownlaowai except: goat 2015 (hkfengshui.com), stamp (blog.sina.com.cn), papercut (58pic.com), door decorations (huitu.com).