Hope Springs Eternal in the Year of the Yin Metal Rabbit

The idea of yin and yang – the opposites that create, become and contain seeds of each other – permeate Chinese philosophy and astrology. According to the latter, the state of the world is currently moving from yang to yin as we transition from the year of the yang metal tiger to the yin metal rabbit. After consulting Internet astrologers and psychics, my own random inclinations, and other completely arbitrary sources of unsubstantiated new-agey wisdom, I can definitively pronounce that there is a distinct possibility that we can look forward to a more civil, peaceful, prosperous and productive year ahead.
Dragon dancers perform in front of the museum at the 2010 New Year Fair
The New Year Festival starts Feb. 3, but lasts for fifteen days, so come out and celebrate the auspicious year ahead at the FREE Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair Feb. 12-13 at 3rd and J St. downtown, and/or buy tickets to our 15th Annual Banquet, Feb. 19 at Pearl Restaurant in Rancho Bernardo.

In addition to the well-known twelve animals, each lunar year is also associated with one of five elements (metal, water, wood, fire, earth) that changes every two years. For example, 2010 was a yang metal tiger, so 2011 is a yin metal rabbit, and 2012 will be a yang water dragon. This makes a 60-year cycle, which Wikipedia lays out nicely here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_zodiac

Museum volunteers write calligraphy during the New Year Fair
Rabbits are cautious, social, cooperative, they have a good eye for detail and a tendency towards domesticity. They are the epitome of the yin nature, and rabbit years traditionally are said to be the luckiest year for girls to be born, whereas the dragon is the perfect yang sign and ideal for male children. If one extrapolates stereotypical feminine rabbit qualities to world events as a whole, one can expect dialogue and conflict resolution to prevail over saber rattling and hostility.

The last yin metal rabbit year was 1951, when most nations concentrated on rebuilding from WWII. Of course, the globe was not entirely peaceful, and the Korean War raged on, but most conflicts were focused on domestic security, like the rise of McCarthyism and the Rosenberg trial in the U.S. and China securing control over Tibet. Artistic pursuits also tend to thrive in rabbit years; 1951 saw the premier of The King and I on Broadway, I Love Lucy on TV, and J.D. Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye.

Rabbits have a tendency to take care of the domestic sphere first, so one could see an increase in protectionism, isolationist tendencies, and even xenophobia as nations look inwardly to repair their economies and secure their borders. But these and other efforts may be successful as the element of metal is often associated with money, and the metal tiger year did see the technical “end” of the recession…

According to modern science, rational thought, the idea of free will, and all that modern jibber jabber, one shouldn’t put too much stock in these predictions. But 2010 met many predictions for a tumultuous year, and it is interesting that calls for a shift in the rancorous tone and violent metaphors of American political discourse have come just as the yang tiger year is ending…

So, with the utmost faith in the power of irrational optimism, I hereby proclaim that in 2011 the people of Earth will finally learn to live in peace and harmony. And (why not?) in the words of the traditional Chinese New Year greeting, we’ll all get rich and be happy 恭喜发财, too. 


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