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Enter the Black Water Dragon
January 21, 2012 7:00 AM   Subscribe

A much anticipated birth is expected by many Chinese families after the New Moon on Monday, 23rd January ushers in the auspicious Year of the Dragon. The only mythological beast in the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon as a symbol in China dates back to 3000 BC and stands for happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. This year's babies will be Black Water Dragons, considered to be calmer, more flexible and even more charismatic than other elements. In previous dragon years, countries such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore have all experienced baby booms, and preparations are in place for this year's influx of baby dragons.
posted by infini (34 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Via Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution, I got this link: Does Fortune Favor Dragons?
posted by symbioid at 7:13 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dragon baby here! The other thing is that you an then pretty accurately guess people's ages when they give their astrological sign. When I was in China, the Chinese often asked about astrological signs and then quickly deduced which direction to go on the age scale--hmm, you don't look 32, you must be 44, although they said it much more indirectly than that.
posted by etaoin at 7:48 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


another pseudonym for my son THING2 is "Dragon Baby". he was born in 2000 :D
posted by liza at 7:54 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Told the extended family to not even think about it. Mrs C and I will have a baby when we're ready, not when the stars foretell or whatever crap.
posted by the cydonian at 8:02 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are so many Chinese really still that superstitious? Or is it that there are tangible benefits -- hiring favoritism, for example -- for people born in a "dragon" year?
posted by pracowity at 8:04 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely it's the Xe Dragon now?
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Cydonian: I too must confess I was thinking about you and the Mrs ;p

pracowity: this aspect is covered in the pdf I linked (The influence of Chinese zodiac on fertility in the Hong Kong SAR) and abstracts of the jstor and symbiod's link
posted by infini at 8:08 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are certainly downsides. I live in Singapore, and every 12 years there's a mini baby boom as superstitious Chinese parents rush to get those babies out. I can't speak for any supernatural effects, but you get more crowded classrooms (for example) as those babies enter the education system, and on particularly auspicious dates you'll even see a significant uptick of expectant mothers in the hospital trying to give their babies an auspicious birthday. (Which is kind of silly because it means the hospital's resources are going to be stretched beyond a normal day's load and if something unfortunate happens it's probably exacerbated by the extra workload.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:12 AM on January 21, 2012


... Or what the articles said.
posted by WalterMitty at 8:13 AM on January 21, 2012


So is this the Chinese Pon Farr or what?
posted by indubitable at 8:20 AM on January 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The other statistically significant year was 1965/1966 in terms of abortions to prevent Fire Horse babies (starting with the Lunar New Year of 1966) being born in Japan. There's a whole paper on why I'm still single though of course I look much younger, oops
posted by infini at 8:20 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not doubting that the birth rate goes up in dragon years. I'm wondering whether it goes up more because parents believe the hocus pocus (my child will be charismatic, etc.) or because parents think other people believe the hocus pocus (my child will have an easy time getting a job, etc.). Maybe it would be hard to tell one from the other. If enough people thought dragon babies must be charismatic, confirmation bias would ensure that each dragon baby was seen as charismatic and so treated as such, and even the most rational people would start to believe this silliness.
posted by pracowity at 8:21 AM on January 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hopefully they let the female dragons live.
posted by Renoroc at 8:24 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another dragon baby here! Due in September.
Ms. Sour Cream actually hails from mainland China, but the dragon thing wasn't really a consideration.

And yes, we will let it live, regardless of whether it's a boy or a girl.
posted by sour cream at 8:52 AM on January 21, 2012


Does this kind of thing go as far as parents trying to induce birth on an "auspicious" date?
posted by murphy slaw at 8:53 AM on January 21, 2012


My guess is that they figure they were going to have a kid anyway and why not now? When it's lucky or at least people will think it's lucky?

I wouldn't discount superstition. I was surprised when my super modern, well-to-do, educated family member's folks had a fit when April 4 came up as a possible wedding date. (4/4? I don' t think so!)
posted by small_ruminant at 8:54 AM on January 21, 2012


Any suggestions for baby names including 龍/龙? ("long", hope this gets through.)
posted by sour cream at 8:56 AM on January 21, 2012


The Straits Times has had a couple of articles on this

Do dragon babies really bring good luck?

What's so special about a 'Dragon Baby'?
posted by infini at 9:01 AM on January 21, 2012


My parents are both dragons. That sounds like an auspicious union, right?

Hahahahahaha. Ha. Ha. *sigh*

Any suggestions for baby names including 龍/龙? ("long", hope this gets through.)

You could always go with Bruce Lee's screenname, 小龍. Depending on where you might want to be ready to have a nickname though. The "x" consonant can be a bit tricky for non-Chinese speakers.
posted by kmz at 9:08 AM on January 21, 2012


Are so many Chinese really still that superstitious? Or is it that there are tangible benefits -- hiring favoritism, for example -- for people born in a "dragon" year?

I don't know about China, but Japan tends to take these things somewhat seriously. My father-in-law earned his living as a "palm reader", but it was so much more than that. He died a while ago, but we still have all of his star charts and numeracy tables, and a bunch of other stuff.

For example, this year is my honyaku year (yakudoshi). By Japanese count, this is my 42nd year (I turned 40 last August), which means I have to be careful, and every shrine in Japan features posters about who is experience a yakudoshi and who is not - and it's all based on the old Chinese lunar calendar.

I tend to think this sort of thinking is just a hedge. Of course, there are probably many people in China who have little or no control over their economic or bodily fate, so perhaps this sort of magical thinking becomes more compelling.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:52 AM on January 21, 2012


OX! OX! OX!
posted by oddman at 10:02 AM on January 21, 2012


So my wife and I should be happy we're turning 60 this year?
posted by kozad at 10:34 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I too must confess I was thinking about you and the Mrs ;p

Somehow, I *knew* you'd say that. Don't ask me why.
posted by the cydonian at 10:35 AM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't think my little guy will be willing to remain inside until Feb. 4th as per one of the OP links. Fuck it, he's a dragon if I say he is.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:00 AM on January 21, 2012


As long as he makes it to Monday ... you'd better register dragonbomb asap!
posted by infini at 11:09 AM on January 21, 2012


This makes for several dragon coincidences here. My baby will be born in a few weeks, making him a dragon baby. His name will be Michael, and Saint Michael is usually shown slaying a dragon. Dad's name is George, and Saint George is also commonly pictured slaying a dragon.

Weird, huh?
posted by CrazyLemonade at 11:25 AM on January 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another dragon baby on it's way here - I'm due in July! It's all a bit of fun in our family sphere, but even if it's just a bit of superstition, it's nice to have a bit of reassurance that the kid might not be a complete asshole when it arrives.
posted by saturnine at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2012


Fair warning to the Baby Dragons: I and other longtime readers of Fruits Basket will be picturing you as tiny adorable seahorses.
posted by nicebookrack at 1:15 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Twenty-eight comments in, and no mention of the Dragonborn? I thought I knew you, Metafilter.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2012


Well, I'm a Scorpio and a dragon. By astrological standards I should be ruling most of the world and sleeping with the rest. I'm behind on that goal set, truth be told...
posted by dejah420 at 6:17 PM on January 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not doubting that the birth rate goes up in dragon years. I'm wondering whether it goes up more because parents believe the hocus pocus (my child will be charismatic, etc.) or because parents think other people believe the hocus pocus (my child will have an easy time getting a job, etc.)

In my experience, this is treated pretty seriously and not as 'hocus pocus' at all. My best friend's Thai-Chinese, thoroughly modern (she was raised in the US), and a deep believer in the sciences (she's going for a PhD in them). Despite that, she's certainly got some belief in Chinese astrology as well and it influences her life.

When I went to visit her in Bangkok, I was told I'd need to bring the day of the week I was born (she already had the date), the time, and other indicators needed for the fortune teller. The fortune teller cast my fortune then gave me a piece of paper that I was told I needed to keep close to me for luck for the next year. I still have the paper, even though the luck has worn off and I have *no* idea what it means. It was considered a fairly important part of my trip and I have no doubt it wasn't cheap (as a guest, I didn't pay).

Also, some of the best parts in working at a casino came from their desire to attract an Asian clientele: really good fried rice anytime day or night and a lion dance complete with lovely red and gold decorations, loud music, and plenty of money packets to give good vibes to the casino at the beginning of Chinese New Year.
posted by librarylis at 7:38 PM on January 21, 2012


I've noticed this apparent dichotomy between the 'rational' and the 'irrational' as perceived from Western Civ's 'Age of Reason' perspective. Highly educated, thoroughly modern scientists and engineers but with a dash of 'a belief in the mysteries' across most of Asia.

Whether its Indian (Vedic) astrology or Chinese/East Asian - there is a role for astrologers/palmists/fortune tellers that extends beyond the 'lighthearted fun stuff' as its currently perceived in most of the 'West'.

I have often wondered whether a part of this might not just be a CYA (covering your ass) type of thing - if, for eg, on the day the implements of your work are worshipped and dedicated to god, in order to continue good fortune, you also do the same to your phone and your computer and car, what loss is there and hey, if it works, it can only help.

There's less of a clear demarcating line between these two worlds (rational/irrational as I struggle to cluster them) and rarely is it seen as a conflict of belief or contradiction to be a PhD in hard sciences who also goes to the astrologer to find the most auspicious date for a wedding or a dissertation.
posted by infini at 11:50 PM on January 21, 2012


I wonder if any the parents of the 1988 Earth Dragons are having as hard a time as I am with that stubborn little b.... The only "luck" she has is that I haven't drowned her in a canal.*

But, yay, that dragon printed fabric I bought 12 years ago is relevant again.

(Nahh, won't dunk her - she's just a bit much for this Golden Pig sometimes.)
posted by _paegan_ at 10:50 AM on January 22, 2012


Mrs. dahifi is about 6 weeks right now, due in September as well, sour cream.
posted by daHIFI at 9:23 AM on January 24, 2012


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