Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese new year comes roaring in

Telegram Staff Writer

Today isn't just about kisses between Valentines.
For the Chinese culture, it's the start of a new year: the Year of the Tiger.
'According to the Zodiac, Tigers are aggressive, courageous, candid and sensitive,' said Alicia Go of Temple, a woman of full Chinese descent. 'They are also emotional, willful and likely to rebel.'
These traits are, supposedly, good for boys born in the Year of the Tiger.
'But it's not good news for girls,' Mrs. Go said. 'The Chinese culture says that's bad luck.'
Luck, superstition and the lunar calendar are intertwined in the Chinese Zodiac. It's the astrology that makes it so. The varying positions of the suns, stars and planets at any given time have specific meaning to those who link patterns and behaviors with the sky. In the Chinese culture, the Zodiac coincides with a 12-year cycle of recurring animal-shaped constellations. Each of them - the Dog, Pig, Rooster, Dragon, Ox , Sheep, Horse, Rabbit, Snake, Monkey, Rat and Tiger - have special significance.
It is thought that people's personalities take on the qualities of their birth year, Mrs. Go said. The Zodiac even offers romantic advice.
'Tigers are to look to the Horse and Dog for happiness, but they are to be wary of the Monkey,' Mrs. Go said.
Mrs. Go has lived in Temple for more than 30 years with her husband, Victory. The children of Chinese couples, they were raised in the Philippines.
'Our families were very pro-American, and so are we,' Mrs. Go said. 'But we are proud of China and its culture.'
The couple celebrated the Chinese New Year yesterday. They attended a pot-luncheon hosted by the Chinese mission group at First Baptist Church in Belton.
'We also prepared a fish,' Mrs. Go said.
Eating an entire fish, from head to tail, is an ancient Chinese practice of good luck. It's a feast that starts off the New Year.
'You eat all of the fish but save some for the next day,' Mrs. Go said. 'To have some left over symbolizes an abundance of fish, and that means a good start to the year.'
Another good-luck party practice is to prepare steamed dumplings with a coin in the center instead of meat or vegetables.
'Whoever gets the coin is a lucky guy for the next year,' Mrs. Go said.
Luck and heritage are important to Mrs. Go and her husband, for a combination of the two is what won Mr. Go his first name of Victory.
'I was born in 1941 at the time of the Second World War,' Mr. Go said. 'We were anticipating the American soldiers to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese occupation.'
A large crowd welcomed the arrival of the American troops, Mr. Go said.
'Everyone was shouting Victory Joe, over and over, that's what they shouted,' Mr. Go said, adding that Joe was the common reference to any American soldier. 'That's what my father decided to name me.'
So far it's been a lucky name for Mr. Go.
'My wife and I have a good life,' he said. 'It's been a good stay here in Temple.'
Did you know?
-- Past Years of the Tiger include 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986 and 1998.
-- Famous people who were born in the Year of the Tiger include Queen Elizabeth II, Emily Dickinson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, Marco Polo, Karl Marx and Ludwig van Beethoven.
-- The Year of the Rabbit will start Feb. 3, 2011.

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