A Handy Guide to the Year of the Tiger

The cat’s out of the bag. This year January 31 will mark Lunar New Year’s Eve, and with it we cross over into the next phase of the Chinese Zodiac. Last year, you might remember, was the Year of the Ox. Fitting, given what a burden 2021 was for many of us in Taiwan. In 2022, we’re entering the Year of the Tiger. That’s your year if you were born in 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, or 2010. Here’s all you need to know to sink your teeth into the next twelve months.

Tiger Personality Traits and Characteristics

Tigers are associated with Yang energy (as in “Yin and ….”), which is considered to be masculine, active stuff. So if you’re a tiger that means you’re brave, adventurous, competitive, and strong-willed at your best. At your worst, you’re aggressive, short-tempered, and anxious — we might even say… catty? (We’ll show ourselves out… ). 

Tigers have never exactly been pushovers (Photo: Kartik Iyer).

Tigers’ headstrong, competitive, lord-of-the-jungle-type personality traits can make these big cats a bit of a handful at times. Thankfully, in addition to animals, the Chinese zodiac cycles through five elements (fire, earth, mental, water, wood). That means anyone born this year will be a Water Tiger, which are considered to be calm, open-minded, and easy-going (as you’ll know if you’ve ever tried throwing your cat in the bath). Water Tigers prioritize relationships, logically think through their problems, and are perceptive about other people’s feelings, which are great characteristics in a partner.

Lucky Numbers

Lucky number predictions vary for the coming year, but 1 and 3 are generally agreed upon as the best digits to encounter. So consider sprinting up Taipei 101 — or if COVID cancels the race again, jog 2,046 steps up and down your apartment building! You might want to stop just short of your goal, as 6 this year is an unlucky number, even if it is a Chinese homonym for “cool.” Definitely don’t check out these six spots in Taitung worth visiting.

Definitely don’t go to Taitung…

Lucky Colors

Forget the old adage about tigers not changing their stripes. The luckiest colors for people born in this zodiac year are not orange and black but blue and green, which are also lucky during the Year of the Rat. Never been to the Matsu Islands to see the bioluminescent Blue Tears? Still not made that trip out to Green Island? Now might be the best time to go.

On the flip side, nothing but trouble is believed come from the color white this year — confusing as that’s the color of plum blossoms, which are Tigers’ lucky flower. If you want to take your chances with these snowy blooms, head to head to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, Hongludi Nanshan Fude Temple in New Taipei’s Zhonghe District, or Shei-Pa National Park, which have branchfuls of them from January to March. The rewards definitely outweigh the risks.

Lucky Directions

Tigers don’t like it hot. Or at least that’s according to the Chinese zodiac calendar, which states that north is the lucky direction for these big cats. So it’s hard for to go wrong with Taipei 台北, which literally has north (北) in its name. Ramble along the hilltop Grand Trail, which circles the city, head up Yangmingshan to catch the cherry blossoms, or venture further out and explore the coastal magic of Keelung’s Heping Island.

The Taipei Grand Trail fans out across northern Taiwan.

Romance and Love

Still, the fact that we’re entering a tiger year will affect you differently depending on your birth zodiac. Oxen, roosters, pigs (all natural friends of the tiger) can all look forward to a promising year in the dating world, while it will be a lonely one for dragons. Rats should be careful not to push people away — because when has that ever happened?

Famous Tigers

You’re in good company if you were born during the year of this powerful feline. Queen Elizabeth, Christopher Lloyd, Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi, Penelope Cruz, Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, Shawn Mendes, and Leonardo Di”CaT”prio (snigger) were all born in tiger years. 

How to Celebrate the Year of the Tiger

The fact that the Taiwanese pronunciation of 虎 (“hóo” as in “Joe”) also means “for [you]” lends itself to a lot of clever word play around Lunar New Year. In addition to the standard gōngxǐ fācái (恭喜發財), you’ll hear a lot of hóoli huat-tsâi (虎哩發財: “wishing you wealth and prosperity”) and hóoli ōngōng (虎哩旺旺: wishing you prosperity).

Red envelopes are traditionally exchanged during Lunar New Year (Photo: Jason Leung).

Over New Year, children will also wear hats and shoes with tiger images on them for good luck. As with every lunar year, people wear new clothes — and a lot of red — to ring in the spring. If you’re thinking about gifts, money in a red envelope (紅包) is the standard, but usually given to children and retired old people. If you really want to splash out for the season, Marie Claire just cobbled together a stunning selection of festive luxury alternatives — because nothing says “biggest of big cats” like a US$1,000 Fendi handbag — in tiger print of course.

More about the Year of the Tiger Taiwan