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Photo: KevinFielder at Imgur.
For those who celebrate the Lunar New Year (and those who tag along for fun), this is the Year of the Ox.

I asked a friend who was born in Northern China about the attributes of people born in the Year of the Ox. He told me it was all nonsense. Unsatisfied, asked, “Do you know anyone born in the Year of the Ox?” His father, he said. “So what’s he like?” I asked. “Obstinate. He’s hardworking but he’s really stubborn. Not open to new ideas.”

Sounds like an ox to me. You don’t have to believe in the Chinese Zodiac to see why it’s fun.

I went to a website called Chinese New Year, here, and to Wikipedia, here, to see what I could see. Wikipedia reports, “In Chinese mythology, many myths about oxen or ox-like entities include celestial and earthly beings. … In some cases, Chinese myths focus on oxen-related subjects, such as plowing and agriculture or ox-powered carriage. …

“According to some old mythological traditions there was a race held by a great deity to determine which creatures, in which order, would be the namesakes of the twelve-year cycle. The race was run, and swum, the finishing line being across a great river. The Rat and the Ox crossed easily enough, the Ox due to being large, powerful, and adept both on land and in water: the Rat asked the good-natured Ox for a ride on its back, but then ungratefully jumped off at the last minute to cross the finish line first.

“The Year of the Ox does not exactly correspond with years of the commonly used Gregorian calendar. For the 2021–2022 Gregorian time period, the Year of the Ox begins on 12 February 2021 and ends 31 January 2022.

This is a year of the Metal Ox.

The Chinese New Year website says, “In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.”

If you go to that website, you can check to see if you know anyone born in the Year of the Ox. Recent years include 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, etc. You can also learn what the future may hold for an Ox Year baby, and what animal years provide the best marriage partners.

“Oxen are honest and earnest,” says the Chinese New Year site. “They are low key and never look for praise or to be the center of attention. This often hides their talent, but they’ll gain recognition through their hard work. They believe that everyone should do what’s asked for them and stay within their bounds. Though they are kind, it’s difficult for them to understand persuasion using pathos.

“[Men] born in the Ox Year are reliable and trustworthy. They put their entire heart into everything they do. They feel great responsibility towards their family as well. However, due to their confidence (almost arrogance), they don’t allow anyone to go against their rules. They hold [their] children to high expectations, even though it might be unrealistic.”

If you know people born in 1973, say — which, like this year, is a Metal Year of the Ox — you can tell them that they “face obstacles early on, although there are no financial worries. Friends and family aren’t much help, but [Metal Year Oxen] will be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

Besides metal, there are other specific types of Ox Year: Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. I heard about that taxonomy when my second grandson was born. Suzanne had visited Bhutan before her marriage, and was interested when a Buddhist monk suggested a name for her firstborn. She used the Swedish translation of that name as a middle name.

That baby came in a Dragon Year, and we learned he was, specifically, a “Water Dragon.” He does love to swim and sail, but he has a mysterious hostility to ice!

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