All Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., including the National Zoo, and in New York City continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Chinese zodiac rotates through a 12-year cycle of animals and the traditional five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. 2020 is the Year of the Metal Rat 鼠. As the first animal in the cycle, the rat is believed to usher in a period of new beginnings. Those born in the year are considered to be smart, quick-witted, flexible, adaptable, and outgoing. The lunar new year begins January 25, 2020, and starts the Spring Festival season that ends fifteen days later on the evening of the Lantern Festival. Dating from as early as 1000 BCE, the traditional Chinese method of counting years is based on the sixty-year rotation of the planet Jupiter (known as the “year star”) around the sun.