Nick Lees: Take hope from the Zodiac and dawning of the Year of the Ox


Edmonton graphic designer Wei Yew, born in Singapore to Chinese parents, produces a Chinese New Year card annually and is seen here with his Year of the Ox design. Photo by Supplied

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Thank goodness the Year of Ox has begun.

That is the word from friends who follow the Chinese Zodiac calendar, some 20 to 50 days behind our Gregorian calendar.

“Their Year of the Rat has ended, a traditionally turbulent year that lived up to its reputation,” says Edmonton’s graphic designer Wei Yew, born in Singapore of Chinese parents. “The Rat reigned in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic swept the world, taking the lives of nearly 2.5-million people and causing extensive economic chaos.”

Yew says while the impact of the virus will remain throughout 2021 and beyond, the Year of the Ox is traditionally stable and economically prosperous.

“Vaccination programs around the world are slowly gaining strength and economic recovery will gain momentum,” he says. “Zodiac followers believe there should be no more major catastrophes this year.”

Each year, Yew sends friends a Chinese New Year card with related facts.


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“According to the Chinese zodiac, one’s birth year tells more than just about age,” he says. “Not only is one’s personality affected by the animal associated with that year, but relationship compatibility also depends on the Zodiac.”

The Zodiac calendar can be traced as far back as 14th century BCE and the animal signs are based on the astronomical observances of the sun’s longitude and the moon’s phases.

“People born in the year of the Ox are traditionally considered honest, hardworking, trustworthy and logical,” he says. “They are also reliable, methodical and conscientious, but they can also be opinionated and stubborn.”

“This year is going to be perfect for relationships, friendships or love.”

For my enlightenment, Yew added Oxen are castrated male cattle over four years of age and are trained in teams of two to pull their body weight, or as much as 5,900 kilos.

“Animals represent each of the 12 years in the Zodiac cycle, which began anew in 2020 with Year of the Rat,” says Yew. “It was followed Feb. 12 this year by the Year of the Ox, which ends Jan. 31, 2022.”

Recent years of the Ox: 1925, 1937, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and 2009.

On his business card, Yew shows how varied the talents of Ox celebrities can be. A sampling: Lois Armstrong, Napoleon Bonaparte, Catherine the Great, Marlene Dietrich, Anton Dvorak, Vincent van Gogh, Rudyard Kipling and Barack Obama.

Yew is a horoscope reader, who in 40 years of Edmonton design work, has created identities for Syncrude, Citadel Theatre, Edmonton Valley Zoo, The Citadel, EPCOR and many more arts, health and business organizations.


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“Like most people, I believe the horoscopes I like and shrug off those I don’t,” he says. “But we must give the Chinese credit for their stories, such as how animals were attached to various months.”

According to legend, Buddha summoned all animals to bid him farewell before he left earth. But only 12 showed up. As a reward for their kindness, he named a year for each, in order of their appearance.

UPLOADED BY: Nick Lees ::: EMAIL: ::: PHONE: 7804823603 ::: CREDIT: Nick Lees ::: CAPTION: Graphic designer Wei Yew gives solid information about the Chinese New Year we have just entered. It is The Year of the Ox and he is seen here studying a team in Ollantaytambo, Peru.Graphic designer Wei Yew spent over an hour watching a farmer training his novice oxen inOllantaytambo, Peru. Photo by Wei Yew /Nick Lees

“The powerful, good-natured Ox was about to arrive first,” says Yew. “But the rat had tricked him into giving him a ride and jumped down to land ahead of his good-natured friend.”

Curiosity made me check my Chinese Zodiac birth year online and immediately I recognized how nearly accurate the calendar is.

Those born, like me, in a Year of the Horse — that’s 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002 or 2014 — are active, energetic, love crowds and can been seen at concerts, sporting events and parties.

Horses such as I have a deft sense of humour, are masters of repartee and take any stage to delight audiences. (How true!) Sometimes we can be a little self centred. (Wrong!) But that does not mean we are not interested in the problems of others. (Totally are!) We are highly intelligent. (Obviously!) And that is why most Horse people lack self confidence. (Wrong again!)

Yew is a Goat, and I checked his traits to be sure the Zodiac was not whimsically making this stuff up.

The year of the Goat is the eighth year in the Chinese Zodiac cycle and is among animals that people like the most. Goat years are: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015.

Endowed with creativity and a talent for art, they have admirable tastes in music. (So true! Yew is married to retired ESO cellist Sheila Laughton.)

Goats tend to be quiet, not bothered about status and power, and work hard for those they love. Good career choices include graphic design and music. (Right on.)

Read more columns about the Edmonton community from Nick Lees.


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