For many Chinese, it’s necessary to wear red underwear, a red string around the waist or wrist, or a gold necklace throughout the entire ben ming nian, the zodiac year in which they were born.
For example, those born in the year of horse, namely the years of 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990 and 2002, are entering their ben ming nian this year.
Ben ming nian (destiny year) is supposed to be a year of extremely bad luck and many difficulties.
Many people don’t realize, however, that cautions also apply to those separated in birth by six years.
This is because those born in the destiny year — and those six years away — are said to offend the god Tai Sui, the ancient Chinese name for Saturn. This year it’s horses and rats, on opposite sides of the 12-animal zodiac.
It’s said that the god that protects horse people departs for heaven that year, leaving the person unprotected and vulnerable to all kinds of dangers.
Red is considered an auspicious and lucky color that can counter bad luck, while gold is said to have enough spiritual power to conquer evil spirits. Thus, the red clothing, strings and gold jewelry — they are supposed to be kept close to the body at all times.
Some people buy Tai Sui amulets in a small red paper pouch and carry it with them throughout the year, burning it before the next new year arrives.
Horses and rats are advised not to go to funerals since they are more vulnerable to yin (cold) energy and evil spirits this year.
Women are advised not to give birth during their ben ming nian since heavy bleeding lowers energy and makes one vulnerable.
People in their destiny years are also not supposed to attend the birth or the celebration of new babies.
They should not visit remote, especially wooded areas, with less yang energy and more yin, which invites evil spirits.
Considering possible dangers ahead, horses and rats are advised not to make big decisions or significant changes.