KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 10 — In many Chinese households, there is a belief that those born under the dragon zodiac sign are destined for greatness.
Accountant Lim Su-Lyn remembers the great expectations her relatives had of her when she was growing up as superstition has it that if there is even one child in the family who is a “dragon”, she would bring luck and prosperity to them all.
“The dragon is the most superior among all the other animals in the Chinese zodiac. That is how highly it is regarded.
“It is believed to be strong, majestic, perfectionist, confident, powerful and naturally lucky and gifted.
“So, being born a dragon, I was one of those who was expected to have all of these traits,” the 36-year-old accountant told Malay Mail.
To a certain extent, it became stressful, but Lim said her parents were not as superstitious as compared to her extended family members.
“It was a big deal when my relatives found out that I would be born in the year of the dragon. Some even wished that I was born into their family and asked if they could take me as their godchild if I was born a boy,” she said.
She explained that being a boy was a big deal in traditional families that believed men to be “superior”.
“That is the reason why if they get a dragon boy, it would be the ultimate gift.
“My parents never expected anything extraordinary from me, they always just wanted the best life for me, to be healthy and happy always,” she related.
At 72, Christine Tan has experienced the full cycles of her zodiac sign several times over.
Even at an advanced age, she feels strong and attributes it to being born a dragon as the mythological animal is seen to have a strong personality and be able to overcome any difficult situations in life.
Opting for a quiet Chinese New Year, Thong Li Li and her husband decide to go for simple decor to usher in the New Year. — Picture by Hari Anggara
“As someone who’s born in the Year of the Dragon, it gave me strength, as we all know this animal has very strong characteristics.
“Overall ageing as a dragon lady, it feels as if I have the strength to overcome things and also when faced with challenges, it tends to end well or there’s always a solution to everything,” the retiree related.
When asked if she felt pressured to live up to certain expectations, Tan said to a certain extent, yes.
“During my working years, people often regard me as the dragon lady because I admit, I have a very stern personality,” she said.
But Tan said her immediate family wasn’t very superstitious and did not expect her to fulfil any “destiny” as such.
Though she will be marking her sixth full zodiac cycle this year, Tan said her family doesn’t plan on having a gala.
“Even for Chinese New Year, many whom I know are throwing a big party, but for us, as long as our family is together, that’s what matters most.
“We don’t need a big party to remind ourselves about the people we love and care for,” she said.
When a dragon births a dragon
Born in 1988, Thong Li Li, like Lim, experienced the full brunt of expectations from her relatives as a “dragon” baby.
The 36-year-old auditor recalled living among traditions and culture was not an easy feat.
And now that she is about to give birth to another dragon baby this April, the expectations have doubled.
She said that everyone around her sees dragons as mascots for good luck and prosperity but as one who has had to shoulder the weight of such expectations, she hopes to spare her soon to be daughter such pressures.
Thong Li Li, keeping it simple this Chinese New Year, while she awaits her dragon baby to arrive some time in April. — Picture by Hari Anggara
“It’s probably due to the dragon's status in traditional culture, how it’s linked to the emperor, so people back in the day and even until today have the mysterious feeling about the dragon and about children who are born in the year of the dragon, and how they could bring us fortune and good luck.
“But for me, I just hope that my baby has the characteristics of a dragon. That is for her to be powerful, have a strong body, not be easily defeated, strong ambitious goals, strong leadership skills and a bold personality,” Thong said.
Lim Chee Weng, who will also be turning 36 this year, said that being seen as “superior” just by virtue of being born a dragon, not many people know the headache that comes with being one, or being the parent of one.
One example would be school enrolment, the public relations manager said.
“Because many people plan to have their child born in the Year of the Dragon, those who want to send their children to a desired school have to book their spot way ahead,” he said.
He said that parents who fail to do so will have to leave it to chance and their “dragon babies” might have to attend school far from home, or one with less than excellent facilities.
“That is one of the things that some new families overlook,” he said.
“We had a few schools in mind, and thankfully we made a few backup plans. It’s good to go with traditions and culture, but at times like this, it’s overdone,” he added.
Although he will be marking his third zodiac cycle this year, Lim said he does not feel that the Year of the Wood Dragon is a big deal.
“While some of my friends are throwing huge parties, in this economic climate, we’re thankful to have our children with us, and our parents with us to spend Chinese New Year together.
“Chinese zodiac signs have interesting traditions that to a certain extent are relatable, but should not be followed to the extreme. That is my opinion,” he said.