Happy Ewe Year: Astrological signs bad for the Sheep Year

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Chinese New Year 2015
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Happy Ewe Year: Astrological signs bad for the Sheep Year
As the Chinese New Year welcomes in the year of the sheep, Monday was the day of the penguin. As six little guys sported their best Tang suits.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - FEBRUARY 19: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) Lion dance is perfromed as the Chinese New Year celebration at Yokohama Chinatown on February 19, 2015 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
HONG KONG - FEBRUARY 19: Performer takes part of the 2015 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade on February 19, 2015 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The parade featured illuminated floats accompanied by local and international performing groups which entertained both locals and tourists alike on Chinese Lunar New Year. Tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong today to celebrate the Chinese New Year and welcome the Year of the Goat, with New Year's day falling on February 19. Chinese new Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and is widely celebrated across Asia. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - FEBRUARY 19: Performer takes part of the 2015 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade on February 19, 2015 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The parade featured illuminated floats accompanied by local and international performing groups which entertained both locals and tourists alike on Chinese Lunar New Year. Tens of thousands gathered in Hong Kong today to celebrate the Chinese New Year and welcome the Year of the Goat, with New Year's day falling on February 19. Chinese new Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and is widely celebrated across Asia. (Photo by Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: Chinese artists perform a dragon dance at a local amusement park during celebrations for the Lunar New Year February 19, 2015 in Beijing, China.The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
TANGERANG, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 19: Indonesian Chinese pray during Chinese New Year celebrations at Bun San Bio Temple on February 19, 2015 in Tangerang, Indonesia. The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, and is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with a Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. Chinese New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and is widely celebrated across Asia (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 19: Indonesian Chinese release pigeaon as part of pray during Chinese New Year celebrations at Dharma Bhakti Temple on February 19, 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, and is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with a Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. Chinese New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and is widely celebrated across Asia (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
Fruit offerings are placed before religious figures while Indonesian devotees pray at a Buddhist temple in Jakarta on February 19, 2015, as Indonesian-Chinese residents celebrate the Lunar New Year, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep. Buddhists are a minority in the predominantly Islamic Indonesia but celebration of Chinese New Year is widely observed in big cities. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
FUYANG, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: (CHINA OUT) People light incense at Zifu Temple for good luck and great fortune in the early morning of the first day of the Chinese New Year on February 19, 2015 in Fuyang, Anhui of China. Chinese New Year fell on February 19, according to Chinese calendar and people throughout country celebrated Spring Festival for new year's fortune and good luck. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - 2015/02/19: Malaysian ethnic chinese gather to pray with joss stick at the temple in Genting Highland outside Kuala Lumpur. Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year worldwide, where 2015 is said to be the 'Year of a Goat'. (Photo by Khairil Safwan/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - FEBRUARY 19: Dragon and lion dance performers perform in the street during the celebration of the Chinese New Year in the Chinese district of Binondo on February 19, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. The Chinese New Year (the year of the sheep) has begun, known by locals as 'Spring Festival' or 'Lunar New Year'and is being celebrated annually by Chinese Filipinos who make up roughly 25 percent of the local population. (Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images)
A boy stands on a model of a ram near a temple during celebrations to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong on February 19, 2015. Fortune tellers in Hong Kong said that the Year of the Sheep should be calmer in general than the previous Year of the Horse, which was characterised by catastrophic international air accidents, brutal terror attacks, global political upheaval, a resurgent Ebola virus and war. AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Ethnic Chinese arrive at Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur on February 19, 2015 to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year celebrations. Millions of Asians are celebrating the Lunar New Year, which marks the beginning of the Year of the Sheep on February 19. AFP PHOTO / MANAN VATSYAYANA (Photo credit should read MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP/Getty Images)
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2015/02/18: A man offers candle for prayers to celebrate the Chinese New Year festival at at Leng Noei Yi temple in Bangkok's Chinatown. Chinese people around the world will celebrate the Chinese New Year, this year falls on 19 February 2015, the first day of the Year of the Goat. (Photo by Piti A Sahakorn/LightRocket via Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: A liitle girl wearing the mask poses for photos at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year of Sheep on February 19, 2015 in Beijing, China. The Chinese Lunar New Year of Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
HONG KONG - FEBRUARY 18: Worshippers burn incense and pray at Wong Tai Sin Temple on the first day of Lunar New Year holiday on February 18, 2015 in Hong Kong. Tens of thousands of worshippers flocked to temples across to pray for good luck and fortune for the Year of Sheep. (Photo by Anthony Kwan/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: Chinese artists perform a dragon dance at a local amusement park during celebrations for the Lunar New Year February 19, 2015 in Beijing, China.The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - FEBRUARY 19: Indonesian Chinese pray during Chinese New Year celebrations at Dharma Bhakti Temple on February 19, 2015 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep also known as the Spring Festival, is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, and is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with a Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. Chinese New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and is widely celebrated across Asia (Photo by Oscar Siagian/Getty Images)
HEFEI, CHINA - FEBRUARY 19: People takes pictures of fireworks on Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve on February 19, 2015 in Hefei, China. The Spring Festival will be celebrated February 18-24. (Photo by Xiao Lu Chu/Getty Images)
KOLKATA, INDIA - 2015/02/18: To mark the year of the goat, Chinese community celebrates the Lunar New Year eve with zest and zeal in Tangra, Kolkata. (Photo by Saikat Paul/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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BEIJING (AP) - Chinese were seeing in the Year of the Sheep on Thursday, but with fortune-tellers predicting accidents and an unstable economy and some parents-to-be fretting over the year's reputation for docile kids, it wasn't exactly warming everyone's heart.

This animal sign, which comes once every dozen years, can be said to have an identity crisis. Known variably as the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram, the sign's confusion stems from its Chinese character, "yang," which broadly describes any of the ruminating mammals, with or without horns.

Many Chinese prefer to translate it as the "Year of the Sheep" because sheep are more cute and cuddly, and large sheep figures have appeared around the capital's shopping areas in recent weeks.

The goat, however, is more likely to be the original meaning because it was a popular farm animal among Han Chinese who started the zodiac tradition, Huang Yang, a researcher on the roles of sheep and goats in Chinese culture, was quoted by the official Xinhua News agency as saying.

Still, Xinhua is going with "Year of the Sheep" in its English-language reports rather than "Year of the Goat."

During the seven-day holiday that started Wednesday, the world's second-biggest economy largely shuts down.

Many mainland Chinese tuned into the annual New Year's Eve TV gala Wednesday evening, and this year's mascot managed to achieve the problem-solving feat of not being clearly a sheep or a goat.

The previous year, the Year of the Horse, is generally considered to be an auspicious time - never mind that Asian airlines had a string of high-profile disasters.

Astrologists interviewed said this year would bring a volatile economy, more transport accidents and windy natural disasters such as tornadoes in the United States and typhoons to Southeast Asia.

For China, which doesn't get tornadoes, that means air pollution, "coming in with dirty air currents and affecting everyone's lives," said Shanghai-based astrologer Dong Jialing.

"In around June, when it's getting hot in China, the Western economy will fluctuate quite a lot and will be very unstable," Dong predicted. But August or September will mark the start of a very stable economic period.

Feng shui master Clement Chan, who appeared on "America's Next Top Model" as a guest judge in an episode filmed in Macau, said he sees a lot of fire this year, and "fire means accidents." He anticipates plane crashes in the first half, but not as many as in 2014. He also sees a lot of road accidents.

On the positive side, he sees female managers and company leaders doing well this year. "I think you'll see a lot of female world leaders - they'll achieve something great, actually," Chan said.

A Hong Kong brokerage that publishes a tongue-in-cheek annual feng shui report, "more for your pleasure than profit," said the Chinese territory's Hang Seng stock index is likely to see some volatility as its rooster character clashes with this year's sign.

The CLSA brokerage warns that people will be easily annoyed and difficult to deal with, so it's "a good year to be on guard and not get fleeced."

The brokerage also speculates on the fortunes of celebrities. Jackie Chan's actor son Jaycee, released Friday after serving a six-month sentence on drug-related charges, has the zodiac sign of a dog and will benefit from slowing down and learning more about himself, it said.

People born in the yang year, including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Zhang Ziyi, traditionally are believed to be filial, kind-hearted and artistic, while also timid, obstinate and consummate worriers.

The Chinese character "yang" is present in other characters with positive meanings, such as "beautiful," ''auspicious" and "goodness." Still, some superstitious Chinese find the year inauspicious and believe that sheep babies will be unhappy and more likely followers than leaders. Some parents say they'll avoid having a child this year.

Dr. Meika Chin, a midwife at Shanghai United Family Hospital, estimated births in the coming year would be 20 percent below the average, with many couples saying "they're going to skip the Year of Sheep and have the baby the year after."

It was possible to induce births early to avoid the sheep year, Chin said. "We always say it's the end of the horse year, rush hour, you know, they want to get in."

One woman attending a prenatal class, and due in late February, said she doesn't pay much attention to the zodiac.

"Lots of people think sheep babies' lives will be very tiring and they have to work hard, so lots of people try to avoid having sheep babies," said the mother-to-be, who would only give her surname, Li.

"But that means my baby won't have as much competition, which is great."

___

AP videojournalists Paul Traynor in Shanghai and Angela Chen in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

Lunar New Year traditions and superstitions:
Lunar New Year Traditions and Superstitions


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