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Chinese astrology offers different views

At the stroke of midnight on Jan. 23, fireworks in Chinese communities all over the world will usher in the Year of the Snake. One of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, the snake is actually not hated and feared as it is in the United States, said...

At the stroke of midnight on Jan. 23, fireworks in Chinese communities all over the world will usher in the Year of the Snake.
One of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, the snake is actually not hated and feared as it is in the United States, said John Park, who co-owns the First Oriental Grocery of Duluth with his wife, Katherine.
"All I know is that the person born under the year of the snake is the most physically beautiful," he said. "There's no negative connotation as the Westerner's view of the snake would be. It signifies a new beginning. But there's one drawback -- because you're so beautiful, you tend to be vain, overconfident of your own beauty."
People born in the Year of the Snake also love the finer things in life, said Kathy Richelen-Tilder, coordinator of the Asian Pacific Cultural Center. "They love good books, food, music and plays," she said. "They will have good luck with money."
Chinese astrology, like the calendar itself, is an ancient system counting time through the cycles of the moon. Like the Western calendar, the Chinese lunar calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the lunar year based on the cycles of the moon. A complete cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each. Each of the 12-year cycles is represented by an animal in the Chinese zodiac.
They are rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and boar.
"Dragon is the most powerful sign," Park said. "The luckiest is the rabbit." People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be the most talented, rats are the most industrious and resourceful, dogs are the most loyal, he said. Park, who was born in the Year of the Pig, said they're the most stubborn.
"My grandmother used to say to me all the time, 'You're so stubborn.' Loyalty is also a part of the pig."
He said his wife, his mother and his daughter are all tigers, while he and his son are pigs. These two animals aren't enemies in the Chinese astrological system, he said, and it's especially auspicious for a pig to be around three tigers. Why?
"Because these three tigers will be so busy deciding who will dominate the pig, the pig will be left alone," Park said, and laughed. "That's just the old saying about it."
Even though people in modern times have a tendency to scoff at these old beliefs, they still have some power, he said.
"Deep inside, everyone sort of believes it," he said. "I do too, even though I laugh at it and try not to believe it as much."
The system is more like an internal map on how to deal with different people, he said.
"When it comes right down to a time of trouble or significant things happening, I think of the year I was born and the person I am dealing with," he said. "I ask my mom, how do pigs deal with these type of people?"
Her analysis often helps, he said.
There are a number of different Web sites about Chinese astrology. One address to check out is http://www.asiaflash.com/astro2html .
Joan Farnam is the Budgeteer community page
editor and can be reached at joan.farnam@duluth.com . or 723-1207.

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