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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Boldly Going Nowhere

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Year of the Fire Boar

Chinese Astrology was introduced in 2600 BC by Emperor Huang Ti. As with other supreme rulers of his era, he had a lot of time on his hands and was eager to impress his subjects with his superior knowledge.

The Chinese lunar year is divided into 12 months of 29 or 30 days. Each 12-year cycle is then positioned within a major cycle of 60 years (five 12-month cycles) representing the characteristics of each upcoming year.

Chinese astrology is basically composed of two cycles -- 12 annual animal cycles and 5 two-year element cycles. The 12 annual animals are Dog, Boar, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey and Rooster. The five element cycles, each lasting two years, are fire, earth, metal, water and wood.

The first day of the Chinese New Year is celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice which can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February, depending on cyclical lunar conditions.

On Feb. 18, 2007, the Year of the Fire Dog will end and the Year of the Fire Boar will be ushered in.

A Fire Boar should not be confused with a human bore, which is characterized by a large ego, a big mouth and a skull full of marbles. Human bores are highly opinionated, always loud, never wrong and very annoying to anyone actually paying attention to them. They include Rosie O'Donnell, Donald Trump, Hugo Chavez, Terrell Owens, Pat Robertson, Jane Fonda and any politician who has ever formed an exploratory committee.

In Chinese astrology, the boar (pig) represents pureness of heart, chivalry, strength, courage and lasting friendship. Boar people are kind, generous, sincere, trustworthy, tolerant and have a passion for life. They are compatible with the Chinese astrological signs of the Rabbit, Ram, Rat and Tiger, and incompatible with the Snake. Although I was born in the Year of the Monkey, I also find myself to be incompatible with snakes.

Anyone born during the Year of the Boar will have a strong desire for luxury, often extravagant, and will be unwilling to accept compromise. December is the month of the Boar, 9 p.m. to 10:59 p.m. is the time of the Boar, north-northwest is the direction of the Boar, and dark blue is the color of the Boar. When it comes to pigeon-holing the populace, no one does a more thorough job than the Chinese, except for pigeons of course.

Other Boar people were born in 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983 and 1995, including Woody Allen, Humphrey Bogart, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Kissinger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Lee Lewis and Dr. James Weston Burquest. A group photograph would make a compelling ad for birth control.

The last Year of the Fire Boar was 60 years ago. In 1947, sunspot activity was the most intense ever recorded, flying saucers were spotted near Seattle, and a spacecraft supposedly crashed near Roswell, New Mexico. A few months later, the U.S. Air Force (formerly the Army Air Force), the National Security Council (NSC) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) were created. Perhaps it was all a coincidence, perhaps not.

Also in 1947, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in Jordan, Thor Heyerdahl sailed across the Pacific Ocean on a raft, Howard Hughes flew his Spruce Goose across Long Beach Harbor, Chuck Yeagar broke the sound barrier, Jackie Robinson was National League rookie of the year, Howdy Doody made his TV debut, Al Capone died of syphilis, Bugsy Seigal was murdered, and my brother Jim was born. It was a very peculiar year.

Superstitions abound during the Chinese New Year. The entire house must be cleaned before New Year's Day and all the rubbish is to be taken specifically out the back door, but only after the fifth day. I prefer to clean the house once every 3 or 4 years, whether it needs it or not, and toss the rubbish out the nearest window.

During the Chinese New Year celebration, it's considered a lucky sign to hear a song-bird, or see red-colored birds or swallows. Red clothing is preferred during the festival. It's considered bad luck to wash your hair and to use knives or scissors on New Year's Day. For me, a lucky sign is when a $20 bill falls from the sky and lands at my feet. And it's generally bad luck when someone with a knife or a pair of scissors begins chasing me.

Be sure to be on high alert in 2007. Boars can be very unpredictable, especially when they're on fire.

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Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He can be contacted at bret@centurytel.net.