I occasionally listen to NPR while I take a shower, instead of my usual country or 90s music CDs. This morning, the beginning of the new year on the Chinese calendar, I heard an interesting story on BBC’s Here and Now.
This year is the year of the dragon. Dragons are a revered and respected symbol in Chinese culture, representing happiness, immortality, fertility, and strength, among other things. Unsurprisingly, the year of the dragon is considered a lucky time in which to be born. In fact, there is actually a mad rush to give birth during the next twelve months. So much so that superstitious Chinese couples have taken pains to increase their fertility and become pregnant with the proper timing to ensure the birth of a “dragon baby”. As a result, China (and other Asian countries) will likely see at least a 10% increase in the birthrate.
The irony is that, by attempting to have a baby that will lead a life full of good fortune, parents are ensuring that their children will come into and come up in a world that is jam packed with kids their age. “What’s so bad about that,” you say? Well, think about it. More children being born this year means that the staff of medical facilities will be tied up, run ragged, and busy, busy, busy. More likely than not, newborns and expectant mothers will receive less attention and lower quality care this year than they would under another sign. Furthermore, those children will grow up and begin to attend schools where normal classroom sizes will be inflated, meaning that teachers will have less time to devote to the education of each student. So, really…these dragon babies are sort of unlucky in that the odds are somewhat stacked against them. Maybe the luck is in their ability to overcome these obstacles.
And that’s what I was thinking about as I started my day. It’s interesting how cultural beliefs can reflect on sexual practices and family planning, isn’t it?
Listen to the clip on Here and Now’s website.