Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The Chinese year of ox begins Mon Jan 26

The Chinese have a way, common in Asia, of representing each New Year with several things, primarily animals. For centuries, they have used 12 different animals to represent each year completing a 12 year–cycle. According to their lunar calendar we are in the last days of the Year of the Rat. The Year of the Ox breaks forth with the dawn next Monday, January 26.

That will mark the beginning of 15 day-long festivities stretching to February 9th, the Lantern Festival. An even more colorful event than the New Year Day. In the old days this was much like a combination of our Thanksgiving and Christmas festivals. The Kitchen gods were thrown out and good luck couplets on every gate and entrance-way. Red packets of pocket change for the children, good or bad!

There is much more to the New Year tradition than the names of animals, but that is the most well-know element to non-Chinese peoples.

In Chinese communities around the world there are many New Year's superstitions. (We have lots of traditions too: kissing at midnight; the first person to enter your home that day will have an influence on your life that year; all bills should be paid off, no carrying over debts; do not wash the dishes on New Year's Day; must eat black-eyed peas; etc.)

For the Chinese, one of their superstitions is the long-held idea that people born on the different years also feature different traits and characters. (They also stress paying all debts before the first day of the New Year.)

Anyone born during the Year of the Ox is thought to become a powerful leader. Like the Ox, this person is considered to be dependable, calm and modest. They are said, like the Ox, capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint. This person would not thinking of living off credit cards. They have many friends.

That is the kind of report people want when they go see a fortuneteller. So most of these 12 animal-years stress how good they are. There are some negatives which are generally offset by pleasant traits.

Generally speaking if you were born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, you were born in the Year of the Ox. The Year of the Ox ends Feb. 13, 2010 with the beginning of the Year of the Tiger, Feb. 14, 2010 – what a valentine the tigers will have.

The 12 years, in order, are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The Rat will be back and start it all over on Feb. 5, 2020.

Last week's column on the events of Jan. 20, 2009 (Obama's Inauguration) and Jan. 20, 1788 (founding of African church) was enjoyable to write. Possibly because of the hope that fills these days of having a new president. An actual man at the helm. He will need our prayers as his plate is overflowing. So we pray his cup will also overflow.

Last week I did forget to mention another memorable thing that happened on January 20th. The year was 1930. The occasion was the very first radio broadcast of "The Lone Ranger" from WXYZ, Detroit. I missed hearing that first broadcast of my masked friend and hero because I was only nine days old and there is no record of our rented home had a radio.

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