Happy Chinese New Year and Seol Nal! (Seol Nal is the Korean name for the lunar new year.) This is the Year of the Pig, but not just any ol’ Pig Year. Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the Year of the Golden Pig, Year of the Fire Pig, or Year of the Fire Pig that falls on a water element. It is such a special lunar year that no one can say for sure whether it happens every 60 years or 600 years or every 12 years. Either way, it’s a special year, and a lot more babies will be born in Greater China, on the Korean Peninsula, and their respective diaspora. Many Chinese and Koreans believe this will be the most special year to bear children since the Year of the Dragon seven years ago, and hospitals are expecting a spike in birthrate. Births will undoubtedly increase as East Asian parents rush to have children who will be recipients of the good fortune lavished on them by this auspicious Zodiac sign.
Why? According to an article published by AsianAvenue.com:
Supposedly children born in the year of the Golden Pig will make a lot of money. The Pig sign represents everything that makes us plump—health, fertility, and money. And the fact that this year’s pig is golden only adds to the material wealth. But the pig has bad traits as well—it’s also a symbol of greed, laziness, filth, and stupidity. But for many couples, this seems to be a small tradeoff for an early retirement.
However, no consensus has emerged on the special significance of this year. After all, the Year of the Pig occurs every 12 years, but this year is being touted as a special one by many people, especially merchants hoping to generate additional sales by promoting the “Year of the Golden Pig.” According to Korean broadcasting company, KBS:
People who believe in the year of the golden pig say the special year comes every 600 years. They came to this conclusion through calculations, using a combination of the Chinese zodiac and the yin and yang theory. However, a folklore professor, Joo Young-ha, at the Academy of Korean Studies rebuts the theory. He explained that if the year 2007 is the golden pig year which comes every 600 years, there should be records about the special year written in the ‘Taejong Sillok,’ archives of King Taejong. King Taejong ruled the Joseon Dynasty 600 years ago. But there are no such records, which makes him believe the myth was made not long ago.
This Year of the Pig may not be so special after all. According to Asia Times Online:
This lunar year…is fraught with an especially strong dose of astrological Viagra because it is believed to be the Year of the Golden Pig, which – depending on the astrologer you consult – comes once every 60 or 600 years. Either way, it’s a rare pig. Or is it? Serious Hong Kong practitioners of the ancient art of feng shui, or geomancy, have debunked the notion that this is a golden year, writing it off as a commercial invention fostered by shopkeepers to boost business. The next golden pig year, they say, will not come around until 2031.
This is a fire-pig year, according to feng shui masters such as Raymond Lo and Peter So. It is only golden in the fired imaginations of shopkeepers scheming for additional profit. But those merchants have succeeded in duping the general public. Before the crass intervention of commerce, here, by most accounts, is how the Chinese astrological system was supposed to work: each year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the zodiac, which then rotates through five earthly elements – metal, wood, water, fire and earth. This year’s pig is matched up not with gold but with fire and, significantly, the fire sits on water. The elements are therefore in conflict – a theme not particularly popular with merchants and mall decorators – and the year ahead will be full of turbulence. It would be better if this year’s flame were a yang fire, which symbolizes the warmth of the sun, politeness and optimism. But instead, it’s yin fire, and that signifies the spark of tension, conflict and even war.
From what I gather–and I am no scholar in Chinese astrology–this is really the Year of the Fire Pig on Water. So what are the sociological implications of this combination? Well, it seems to portend that children born in 2007 will be hotheaded but prone to being all wet.