AS THE Chinese prepare to welcome the Year of the Goat in just a few weeks, maternity hospitals throughout the country are packed with women waiting to have their babies born before Jan 31, the last day of the Year of the Horse.
For weeks, the maternity ward of the Shanxi Provincial People’s Hospital in Taiyuan has been so full that one has to make a reservation for a bed days before the baby is due.
At a maternity hospital in the nation’s capital Beijing, women in the final stage of pregnancy had to wait in long queues for their routine pre-natal tests and doctors had to take turns for a brief lunch break before hurrying back to work.
The reason for the hurry is a belief that those born in the Year of the Goat would have bad luck all their lives, explained a father-to-be in Taiyuan.
However, the idea is not a Chinese custom, but merely a superstitious belief held by certain people in some underdeveloped regions, said Zhao Shu, an expert on Chinese folk culture.
In fact, the Chinese In olden days used to associate the goat with nice things, as the Chinese character for goat is used to form other characters representing beauty, luck and kindness, he added.
Despite the prejudice, many young couples still choose to have babies next year. “I don’t believe such nonsense,” said Zhang, a white-collar worker in Beijing who is now five months pregnant. “I know people born in the Year of the Goat and enjoy life as much as any one of us.”
Some mothers-to-be are even taking advantage of the superstition, saying their baby “goatlings” will face less competition as they grow up.
“As fewer children will be born next year, we won’t have to worry if there will be enough openings at kindergartens or schools later on.
“Even the job market could be better in the year our child finishes college,” said Luo, whose baby is due in April.
A brief review of the Who’s Who in China also proves that people born in the Year of the Goat can be just as lucky, successful and long-living as anyone else.
In the past century or so, a large number of “goats” have achieved success as high-ranking officials, scientists and sports and movie stars. Cai Hesen, born in 1895 as a “goat,” was an important figure in the Chinese revolution and one of the earliest leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC).
Among the new generation of leaders elected during the recently-concluded 16th CPC National Congress, two were born in 1943, a goat year.
“We can see that a birth sign does not necessarily relate to a person’s fate, and it is therefore not advisable to choose which year a child should be born,” concluded Zhao Shu. The Chinese birth sign system is a 12-year rotation that starts with rat, followed by ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and ends with pig.
The Goat Year will start on the first day of the Chinese lunar new year, which falls on Feb. 1. – People’s Daily
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