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Is a tigress too hard to handle?

[ 2010-02-12 11:23]     字号 [] [] []  
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It's uncertain how many young people today still believe in a "Tiger curse" on girls, but age-old Chinese folklore suggests that girls born in the Year of the Tiger are destined to bring bad luck to their families.

If past records hold true to form, fewer baby girls can be expected in 2010, the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese lunar calendar. Girls born under the sign are believed to be bad-tempered, wild and unpredictable, according to Chinese folklore.

"In the old days, people believed that Tiger girls are tough people. They are too strong, maybe strong enough to overwhelm their families' lives," Professor Xiao Fang, who specializes in Chinese folklore at Beijing Normal University, told METRO.

Xiao said no one knows when and how this belief began, but he thinks it is the result of imagination and analogy.

"Thousands of years ago, people were afraid of being eaten by tigers, which have such a fierce and strong image, as opposed to traditional Chinese thinking that girls should be sweet and soft," he explained, adding that the tiger is a symbol of male power in old traditions, so boys born under the sign are not considered cursed.

Statistics from the Beijing Statistical Information Network shows that 1998, the most recent Tiger year, had the second-lowest birthrate from 1996 to 2007.

The average birth rate was 0.66 percent annually in Beijing over those 12 years, but the birthrate in 1998 was around 0.6 percent. The highest birthrate of the 12 years was 0.83 percent in the 2007 Year of the Pig. The baby boom of 2007 likely came because it was not just any Year of the Pig - which is always auspicious - but doubly so because it was a "Golden Pig" year.

In addition to the 12 animals that form the traditional Chinese zodiac, there are five elements - gold, wood, water, fire and earth - used in ancient Chinese cosmology. A Golden Year of the Pig comes only once every 60 years and is considered an augury of such prosperity and good luck that many couples try to have babies under its sign.

Tian Na, a Beijing woman born in 1981, is a big fan of traditional knowledge. She says the old beliefs may not be based on science, but "it's better to be safe than sorry".

Tian, who was married last year, decided not to have baby this year because she believes a tigress child would jeopardize her life and her husband's.

She said both she and her husband were born in the Year of the Rooster, a sign that can easily be hurt by tigers.

"Maybe the old saying is a little superstitious, but it has been there for thousands of years, so there must be a reason," she said.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Is a tigress too hard to handle?

About the broadcaster:

Is a tigress too hard to handle?

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.