From ‘Enter the dragon babies’, article by Judith Tan, 8 Jan 2012, Sunday Times
Claris Ong and Alexandra Chin, both 11 years old, are ‘Dragon babies’….The girls are outstanding by virtue of being very driven and independent – both qualities true to the nature of those born under that Chinese zodiac sign.
…Since ancient times, the Chinese have always thought a ‘Dragon child’ would bring luck to the family. This is because dragons symbolise traits such as dominance and ambition. According to geomancers, ‘Dragon children’ prefer to live by their own rules and, if left to their own devices, are usually successful.
They are also said to be passionate, driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. But this same passion and enthusiasm can also leave ‘Dragons’ feeling exhausted and even unfulfilled. On the plus side, they are said to be sincere and incapable of hypocrisy. They can also be very persuasive, with an ability to wear down resistance through their intuitive and diplomatic nature. But they are also known to be very sensitive, sometimes cutting and stubborn, or even wilful and vindictive.
…The last Dragon Year in 2000 saw more than 46,000 births – up from an average 42,000 live births in 1999 and 2001. And in 1988, there were 52,957 babies born here, compared with 43,616 in 1987 and 47,669 in 1989.
There’s little tolerance for science and logic when it comes to grounded tradition and mythology. It’s unlikely that people born in the Year of the Dragon are necessarily more successful or driven than people born in any other year, and anyone embarking on such a study would face a daunting task, not to mention suffer brickbats from geomancers whose very livelihood depends on telling Dragon baby parents what they’d love to hear. Of course any birth spike is music to our government’s ears, even if this was borne out of unrealistic expectations resulting in increased competition from maternity beds to nursery, school and job placings. It would help if Dragon baby parents were Dragons themselves to give their kids a headstart, assuming that all the character traits are true. So even if by celestial order Dragon babies are genetically programmed to lead by example and boss other zodiac animals around, the environmental pressure would put the NURTURE element of the ‘nature vs nurture’ argument to the ultimate test.
The opposite to the Dragon Baby boom effect is the Year of the Tiger, which saw dips in births over the past 3 Tiger years. Which is strange since the attributes that lead to a Tiger baby’s success are similar to those of a Dragon. It’s also sexist to think less favourably of a Tiger woman, stereotyped as being fierce and wilful, than a Tiger Man, who’s courageous and dominating and would have been indistinguishable from the stereotype of his Dragon counterpart. Marriages are also down during Tiger years, and with our already dismal fertility rate, the last thing we’ll need is horoscope predictions turning into self-fulfilling prophecies. Our PM (A dragon himself) made a plea to parents to act normal during the inauspicious Tiger year in 2010, and not ‘cling on to superstitions’, but will probably remain silent about the exaggerated faith placed on Dragon children this CNY, no thanks to ST celebrating living proof of clever Dragon children and enticing gullible couples to rush headlong into marriage or birth without considering more practical issues like whether they have a roof over their head or not.
If you read horoscopes closely, you’ll realise how inconsistent and vague their personality attributes are, and often you’d find a bit of yourself in every zodiac animal, though we’re usually not interested in what other horoscopes have to say. It’s a classic mind-reading trick, relying on our tendency to agree furiously with one thing that speaks true of ourselves and forgetting about the others that don’t. In the 1950′s, a Dragon was considered ‘benevolent and lovable‘ and it would be a blessing to marry one. Today’s dragons can be too sensitive, wilful or even vindictive, though it doesn’t really matter if the shortcomings of a dragon change from one era to another. It’s still a DRAGON after all, worshipped to demigod status by Emperors of centuries past.
If you’re aiming to debunk such superstitious hokum, the first parameter that you may want to examine is how many gifted leaders out there actually belong to the Dragon cohort, in proportion to all other animals in the zodiac. Using this helpful Wiki on Dragon birthdates, I carried out a premonitory survey of my own, using prominent Chinese Singaporean figures (politicians mainly) as a very narrow gauge of what we define as success:
Past and president PMs, presidents
- LEE HSIEN LOONG, PM of SINGAPORE (10 Feb 1952, WATER dragon). Even his name has a dragon character in it, adding to the divine mystique of his auspicious birth. Incidentally his father Lee Kuan Yew, born in Sept 1923 (PIG), wasn’t. Tony Tan Keng Yam, the current president of Singapore, missed the Dragon year by a SINGLE DAY (7 Feb 1940). Neither are Goh Chok Tong (1941, SNAKE), Ong Teng Cheong (1936) or Wee Kim Wee (1915).
Past and present ministers/MPs/politicians
- KHAW BOON WAN, National Development Minister (8 Dec 1952), TAN CHENG BOCK, ex MP and presidential candidate (26 April 1940). But not George Yeo (1954), DPM Teo Chee Hean (1954), Chee Soon Juan (1962), Tan Jee Say (1954), WP MP Chen Show Mao (1961) or Wong Kan Seng (1946).
Past and present women ministers/MPs/politicians
- GRACE FU, Senior Minister of State (29 March 1964, WOOD dragon) This dragon lady has been heckled recently for her comments on ministerial pay cuts. Firebrand Nicole Seah of NSP (1986) isn’t one, nor is Tin Pei Ling (1983), Lee Bee Wah (1960), late wife of LKY Kwa Gek Choo (1920), WP MP Sylvia Lim, or prolific author and critic Catherine Lim (1942).
- KHOO TECK PUAT (13 Jan 1917)
- NG TENG FONG (Unconfirmed, but he was born in 1928, a dragon year)
Miscellaneous celebrities who make unlikely dragons
- STEVEN LIM, eyebrow stylist, dancer, all round entertainer (30 Aug 1976, FIRE DRAGON) and HENRY ‘ALAMAK’ THIA (25 Feb 1952, same birthday month as PM Lee).
Without going into formal statistics I think it’s quite fair to say that there’s nothing special about Dragon babies and any Dragon baby that emerges as the leader of a generation or a multi-billionaire is pure coincidence and any success alluded to one’s date of birth suffers from post-hoc fallacious reasoning, conveniently ignoring all the other little dragons who fail to live up to their parent’s expectations, as well as other factors accounting for one’s fortune. Of course if a dragon happens to fail miserably in life or becomes a YouTube laughing stock, then feng shui masters would put the blame on the actual DATE of birth, if not the time you emerged from your mother’s womb down to the millisecond.
It’s worth exploring, however, if the very selective pressure of dealing with the dragon baby boomers in school or work is itself a factor in driving dragons to excel, not so much because they’re born in a certain way, but because of a consequence of a belief in them performing in a certain way. Note that among all the zodiac animals, the Dragon is the only one that exists only as a figment of our imagination. The media getting all pumped up celebrating brilliant children who SO HAPPEN to be Dragon babies is perpetuating a deep-seated symptom of magical thinking, just like the magical creature behind it. You won’t see the same coverage for RAT babies, that’s for sure.
Postscript: It turns out that there has been a misconception of what makes a Dragon baby. According to a 29 Jan 2012 Sunday Times article, you’re not a Dragon baby this year until the ‘Li Chun’, or start of Spring festival, on Feb 4. AT 1824 HOURS. Which means there are people who’ve been associated with dragons, embellished with all the positive traits of dragons, but are actually RABBITS. This, of course, simply disproves the myth of zodiac signs influencing character. Also thanks to ‘CY’ for pointing out that Tony Tan is in fact a dragon.
Filed under: 1950s, 2010, 2012, Babies, Chinese New Year, Kids, Local actors, Politicians, Singaporean men, Singaporean women, Superstitions Tagged: | Babies, cny, discrimination, parenting, Politicians, public holidays, stereotyping, Superstitions