Chinese New Year celebrations kick-off on Saturday, marking the transition from the Year of the Pig to the year of the Rat—Bitcoin’s birth sign.
But the 15 day holiday is traditionally seen as a volatile time for the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.
China is still one of the largest crypto markets despite a trading ban. The holiday period normally triggers the world’s largest human migration, with some liquidating cryptocurrency holdings to finance a frenzy of gift giving. But this year, celebrations are muted.
Will the coronavirus affect Bitcoin’s price?
Joyce Yang, founder of VC firm Global Coin Research, had just arrived in China from the US when she spoke to Decrypt.
She said that the coronavirus outbreak—that’s put cities across China on lockdown and killed at least 25 people— has caused a domestic and international scare, with similar effects on the stability of the Chinese economy to the SARS outbreak of 2003.
“This potential near term threat to the economy, along with the upcoming Bitcoin halving, combined with ongoing geopolitical uncertainty between China and US and the upcoming election, all will bode well for Bitcoin in the next six months,” she said.
She added that “the sell off for Bitcoin for Chinese New Year has reached its tail end, and historically we’ve seen Bitcoin prices rallying back post Chinese New Year, and I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t do the same this year.”
The Year of the Rat
Could Chinese astrology offer some insight on Bitcoin’s longer prospects?
Hogwash? Don’t be so sure. Crypto bag holders can be a superstitious lot, and astrology asserts a remarkable influence over people’s decisions and beliefs in China.
It’s so popular that in 2014, several provinces reported a spike in births, with couples hoping to have babies in the last weeks of the auspicious Year of the Horse, and to avoid the less favorable Year of the Sheep.
Rats are characterised in Chinese mythology by hard work, and activity and symbolise wealth and surplus. Those born in the Year of the Rat—like Bitcoin itself—are known to handle their money really well.
But astrologers also warn that the year of their sign is considered inauspicious for those born under that sign. It is thought that people in their zodiac year offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and should take extra care to avoid misfortune.
The best way to avoid bad luck is to wear red items.
Similar to Western astrology, the Chinese tradition associates each zodiac sign with one of the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal and water—which influence different personality types.
“2020 is not just the Year of the Rat, it’s the Year of the Metal Rat, which occurs every sixty years,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive of Beijing-based Sino Global Capital.
“Legend has it that success in the Year of the Metal Rat is achieved through not wavering in one’s beliefs, values, and ideas. Since the crypto community, if anything, is known for being true believers, hopefully 2020 will be a lucky year,” he said.
That’s unless Warren Buffett has the last laugh. He once called bitcoin "rat poison squared.”