The Lunar New Year kicked off this Tuesday and, while people around the world celebrated, Google cheered online with its own Doodle. It’s the biggest holidayof the year for Chinese communities and marks the first day of the Year of the Pig in the Chinese Zodiac. In this zodiac each year in a twelve-year cycle is attached to a certain animal sign — and because each animal is associated with particular traits, people are planning accordingly.
No one knows exactly when the Chinese zodiac was created, but it was at least popularized by the Han Dynasty over 2,000 years ago. Chinese folklore is full of stories about the animals of the zodiac, and today, many people attempt to make decisions rooted in the personality traits linked to those animals. This is especially true when it comes to planning on when to have a baby: Statistically, people are most keen on having a child born during the Year of the Dragon, but the Year of the Pig is popular as well.
Data collected in 2008 revealed that there was a surge in Chinese births in 2007, and officials linked the boom to the “golden pig”. Pig years are thought to be especially lucky and the Year of the Pig in 2007 was considered even luckier — although a pig year comes every 12 years, “golden pig” years come every 600 according to fortunetellers.
An Asian baby boom happened the same year in New York City as well, and city officials told The New York Times that “many Chinese couples timed their pregnancies to coincide with the Year of the Golden Pig, a particularly auspicious year in the Chinese lunar calendar.”
A Lunar New Year celebratory card.
Birth announcements for this year’s “piglets” have already made news: A mother told the South China Morning Post that she was especially glad her boy was a “piglet” because “pigs seems more blissful and carefree.” That attitude is reflected in the Google Doodle animation above, where a smiling pig strikes a confident pose.
Another baby boom would likely be embraced in China: Faced with falling birth rates the Chinese government has urged its citizens to have more children which it claims will help the economy and society. Some have hypothesized that the recently released official Chinese postage stamp — which features a pig family of five — means that in the Year of the Pig, China will perhaps officially encourage families to have more than two children.
In Chinese culture, pigs symbolize wealth and their big ears are associated with good fortune. People born in the Year of the Pig are thought to be pragmatic, generous, and popular. Chinese zodiacs are also linked to the five elements — metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. 2019 is considered the year of the earth pig.
But according to feng shui philosophy, an earth pig doesn’t spell out luck for everyone. According to The Japan Times feng shui masters agree that the year of the pig can be particularly bad for people born in the year of the dog — and they’ve singled out dog Donald Trump as someone who’s going to have a particularly bad year. Some feng shui fortune tellers have predicted he’ll be impeached between December 2019 and January 2020 — but it all depends on luck.
Media via Wikimedia Commons, Google, Unsplash / Andy Cat