As China gears up to welcome the Year of the Rabbit, Lunar New Year looks slightly different in Vietnam, where the Year of the Cat is about to begin.
Across the country, streets are decked out with statues of felines and shops are stocked full of cat-themed decorations, popular gifts during Vietnamese New Year, known as Tet.
Vietnam and neighbouring China share 10 of the zodiac calendar’s 12 signs — the rat, tiger, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
But the Vietnamese honour the cat instead of the rabbit, and the buffalo instead of the ox. There are a host of theories to explain why the Vietnamese plumped for the cat.
There is also a theory that the Vietnamese made their own interpretation of the Chinese word for rabbit, “mao”. In Vietnamese, this sounds like “meo”, which means cat. The Year of the Cat is believed to bring good luck and smooth sailing in Vietnam.