The year of the rabbit
Happy U-Year for Rabbits
By Janet Foster

The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the twelve year lunar cycle of the Asian Zodiac. According to popular belief, the lineup (which starts with the Rat and always appears in the same order) was chosen by Buddha, but the system actually predates Buddhism. The animal cycle was used to codify not only years but months, days, hours, and personality types as well. Like the expression "As strong as an ox," the animal that rules one' birth year lends its character to the individual and acts as a determinant of destiny.

1999 belongs to the long-eared ones and forecasts to be a very happy U-Year indeed. U is the designated abbreviation for the zodiac rabbit, usagi. This gentle yin year spells relief from the fiery undulations of last year's snarling yang Tiger. Soothing like a warm angora coat in winter, the Rabbit Year portends harmony, social activity and golden opportunities.

There are five breeds of bunny, based on the elements. Water Rabbits (1904, 1963) tend to be more conservative and shy. Wood Rabbits (1915, 1976) are stable and generous. Fire Rabbits (1928, 1988) are bright and aggressive. Earth Rabbits (1940, 2000) are in motion, searching for the place they belong. Metal Rabbits (1952) have wills of steel.

Bunny images will be hopping all over the place. At many shrines, the wooden votive tablets (ema) used to petition the gods will be decorated on one side with a painting of the Rabbit. In Japanese poetry, the moon is often referred to as "a jeweled hare" (gyokuto), because the silvery disk is the dominion of the rabbit who keeps it polished to a fine sheen. This moon rabbit is a symbol of longevity. In Japan, people who gaze up at the moon on a clear night see the rabbit pounding mochi, the essence of rice, the sustainer of life. Rabbit wares will appear all year round, especially in the form of statuettes. With this popular creature in abundance this year, 1999 is bound to be a Happy U-Year.

Whether taken with a grain of salt or taken to heart, this star-studded lineup will show you what to expect from what animal, though a comparison of celebrities with their signs shows that astrology is still an inexact science (witness Bill Clinton and his fellow Dogs).


Year of the RatYears: 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996
Personality: Being the first sign in the calendar, those born in the year of the Rat are pioneers. Restless, inquisitive and with a hint of arrogance, Rats are physically and mentally active and lead busy lives. However, they are threaded with greed which may lead them to lose money in a business deal or happiness in a reckless affair.
Romance: Although passionate and volcanic when angered, Rats may suffer from a romantically quiet life. They should at all costs avoid liaisons with a female Horse. Dragons or Monkeys may be safer.
Famous Rats: Prince Charles, James Bond, Plato, Tolstoy, Liam Gallagher, Val Kilmer.


Year of the OxYears: 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
Personality: Ox can be either patient methodical workers or rigid, obstinate and slow. Their fearlessness and balance can inspire confidence and make them good leaders, or make them stubborn and individualistic.
Romance: This apparent indifference may cause romantic problems and lead partners to look for consolation elsewhere, although Ox are the least likely of all signs to possess a roving eye. Roosters, Rats and Snakes would make good partners but there is a lack of understanding with the Ram and the Pig.
Famous Oxen: Margaret Thatcher, Hitler, Dustin Hoffman, Emperor Hirohito, Richard Nixon, Robert Redford, George Clooney, Boy George.


Year of the TigerYears: 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
Personality: A Tiger is one of those excruciating people who has a GPA of 4, captained every school and college team since age six, helps old ladies across the street, looks like Leonardo DiCaprio and, if things weren't bad enough, you can't help but want to be their best friend. Tigers are the winners in this world.
Romance: With the libido of Bill Clinton and the loyalty of Hillary, Tigers are partners made in Heaven. But then what did you expect?
Famous Tigers: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Queen, Marilyn Monroe, Ho Chi Minh, Stevie Wonder, Jim Carey.


Year of the RabbitYears: 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
Personality: The Rabbit's driving force is a quest for la dolce vita, for comfort and refinement without getting the hands dirty. Quick and ambitious, seductive and streetwise, the Rabbit is the cool headed, Armani-clad businessman with a penchant for fine wines and antiques. But do not be fooled. Even a Rabbit's good qualities are superficially hollow.
Romance: Appreciative of a Ram's artistic sense and impressed by a Dog's honesty, the Rabbit should avoid the Rat like the plague. Rabbits can be distant parents, but make faithful lovers. And yes, they do like to have a lot of children.
Famous Rabbits: JFK, Ingrid Bergman, Drew Barrymore, Napoleon, Stalin, Tori Amos, George Michael, Quentin Tarantino, Tiger Woods.


Year of the DragonYears: 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
Personality: To the Chinese, the Dragon is the luckiest sign of all for, while her life will both soar to the heights of happiness and plunge to the depths of despair, the Dragon just cannot help but land on her feet. Powerful, exotic creatures with sharp minds, Dragons bring wealth, virtue, harmony and long life wherever they go. However, a combination of bad judgment, overconfidence and a dislike of criticism can make them hypocritical and rash.
Romance: Success in life does not necessarily include success in love. While a Dragon might marry young and live happily ever after, her impetuous nature may mean she never finds love and ends up alone. For the former group, Monkeys, Rats and Snakes are dream partners. For the latter, it's probably worth giving anyone a shot.
Famous Dragons: John Lennon, Grace Kelly, Christopher Reeve, Joan of Arc, Frank Sinatra, Al Pacino.


Year of the SnakeYears: 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Personality: In Japan, to call a woman a snake is to compliment her beauty, and basking in their vanity Snakes attract fame and success. Those noting that British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a Snake may be surprised to know that there is, however, a deeper side to those born under this sign. They can be wise philosophical thinkers as well . But as Adam and Eve will tell you, the Snake can be a double-crossing fellow.
Romance: Determined and demanding lovers, Snakes also have the potential to be wonderful parents. A Snake fits best with a Horse or an Ox, but will find the Rooster a little annoying. Women beware: male Snakes often push for large families so their wives are too busy to have a wandering eye like they do.
Famous Snakes: Brad Pitt, Audrey Hepburn, Chairman Mao, Abraham Lincoln, Bjork.


Year of the HorseYears: 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Personality: Through his geniality, charm and popularity the Horse skillfully acquires power and wealth. Quick-witted and lively, they love to take center stage. In truth they are more cunning than intelligent and they know it. Moreover, their tragic flaw is that they are totally illogical in love, and often lose all sense of rationality in their relentless quest for new pastures. In short: they are ideally suited to a career in politics.
Romance: As two conspirators together, Horses are best suited to Rams. Horses and rats do not make compatible lovers.
Famous Horses: Oprah Winfrey, FDR, Barbara Streisand, Billy Graham, Sean Connery, Jackie Chan.


Year of the RamYears: 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Personality: The least likely to make waves, those born in the year of the Ram respect order and rules. They work best as part of a team and the combination of an unassuming nature and innate intelligence attracts wealth. They can also be fierce combatants in the face of danger. However, their nature is often parasitical, not creative. They may be more happy sponging off wealthy parents than fighting for their own place in the world.
Romance: Tailor-made for marriage, the Ram dislikes discord and adores physical contact. Rabbits, Pigs and Horses make good partners for the Ram, but the Dragon and Snake tend to find them a bit wet. The Ram and the Dog are both too pessimistic to have anything long-term.
Famous Rams: Bill Gates, Boris Becker, Jane Austin, Muhammad Ali, Andy Warhol.


Year of the MonkeyYears: 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
Personality: The Joker of the lunar pack, the Monkey is a life-and-soul kind of animal: lively, likable, witty and sociable. With a low boredom threshold and a constant need for attention, the spirit of the monkey is often tinged with egotism and superficiality. But such is their self-confidence that they really don't care what anyone else thinks of them. Opportunistic, unscrupulous and manipulative, the Monkey can fool even a Dragon and resist the charms of a Tiger.
Romance: Long-term relationships are often too dull for Monkeys, although they may be advised to try the Rat or the Dog.
Famous Monkeys: Michael Douglas, Byron, Elizabeth Taylor, Julius Caesar, Ted Kennedy, Martina Navratilova.


Year of the RoosterYears: 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
Personality: The popularity of the Rooster derives from its multifaceted personality. That is not to call them superficial, only diverse and adaptable. Almost any career would suit him, but especially one in journalism or finance. Equally as talented in handling words, money, people or ideas, the Rooster is popular and knows it. Excellent at small talk, he may not light up a room like the Tiger would, but a refined elegance wins over almost everyone - especially women, who adore the male Rooster.
Romance: Never boastful about his love life, the Rooster is nevertheless highly successful in this area. His high libido, and dashing good looks are, however, often tarnished by a fear of commitment. He might like to try his luck with a Snake, Ox or Dragon but should pass on the Rabbit.
Famous Roosters: Confucius, Elton John, Bob Marley, Jennifer Aniston.


Year of the DogYears: 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Personality: Not called man's best friend for nothing, the Dog is a giver. The most just and humanitarian, the loyalty, kindness and respect of those born in this year open doors for them. The Dog's decency and warmth make him many friends, but his pessimism and cynicism towards the work of others can make him seem bossy. In general, though, Dogs deserve our respect and admiration.
Romance: Because close personal relationships are the most important for Dogs, they have trouble finding partners as serious as themselves. Once the right person is found they are as faithful as could be. Their best bet is with a placid and serene Rabbit.
Famous Dogs: Bill Clinton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Winston Churchill, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Andre Agassi.


Year of the PigYears: 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Personality: So honest he feels consumed by guilt at the slightest error, the Pig is more forgiving of others than of himself. His obliging nature can leave him defenseless. However, he is a hard worker and in the right job can fly to the top. Pigs enjoy the good life, desiring to surround themselves with quality and taste. Intellectual and humorous, female Pigs make excellent hostesses. Perhaps charmed by his warmth and geniality, people often like to help the Pig, although the Chinese say this is to fatten him up so he will make a better meal come New Year.
Romance: The Pig adores physical pleasures, both of the table and the flesh. However, the transparency of his emotions makes him easily duped. With the right mate, the Pig makes a loving, sensuous and authentic mate. The best hopes for such happiness lie with the Rabbit, certainly not with the Snake, Ram or Monkey.
Famous Pigs: Hillary Clinton, Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Al Capone, Matt Damon, David Letterman.

Additional research by Charles Spreckley


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