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Year Of The Monkey

The new year is the Year of the Monkey, according to the Chinese zodiac. In Japan, the Year of Monkey started on January 1, even though the lunar new year, the real beginning of the monkey year, will not take place until the end of January.

Nearly 10 million Japanese are born under the sign of the Monkey, the Mainichi Daily News tells us, which makes the number of births the third fewest of the 12 animals of the zodiac. The most populous is the sign of the Cow or Ox (which happens to be my sign), the least populous the sign of the Rooster.

There are many explanations why certain signs are more popular than others. Such believes run so deep, that, for example, the number of births during 1966, the last Year of the Fiery Horse (Hinoeuma), a special astrological constellation occurring every 60 years, dropped steeply in Japan as many avoided giving birth because girls born that year were deemed especially unlucky.

The Year of the Monkey has its own notoriety: On the eve of the lunar new year 1968, which marked the beginning of the the Year of the Monkey, a massive Vietcong and North Vietnamese offensive struck many cities of Central Vietnam, such as Da Nang and Qui Nhon, as well as cities in the central coastal and highland areas. Since the lunar new year is called “Tet” in Vietnam, this attack went down in history as the Tet Offensive.

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