China Elevator Stories

The year of the monkey and how goats became inauspicious

My husband cautions against having a baby born in the year of the goat.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


When my husband and I start thinking about having kids and when we’d like to have them, he always cautions against having a baby in the year of the goat. According to my husband, 9 out of 10 people born in the year of the goat suffer from bad luck throughout their lives. 

Now, maybe my husband wouldn’t be one to really believe in this kind of stuff were it not for his father. When my husband was little, his father had surgery and needed to take medicine, the combination of which caused a paralysed leg.

More than 30 years later, my father-in-law still suffers from pain on a daily basis. Nevertheless, he doesn’t complain much and seems quite content with how things have worked out for him. It could be worse, right? 

So back to the year of the goat. 

 My husband didn’t want me to become pregnant in the year of the goat due to the above mentioned superstition. We decided we’d try for a baby the year of the horse, the one preceding the year of the goat, instead.

But recently, he told a different story about why the year of the goat might get such a bad rap – the explanation of which he got from an online article: 

From 1861 to 1908, Empress Dowager Cixi effectively ruled China. Because her son was still little when the emperor died, she was the one pulling the strings and taking over power. Cixi was born on 29 November 1835 in the year of the goat. She is a descendant of the Manchurian Yehe Nara clan, that lived in a town called Yehe, just south of Siping, the city in Jilin province my husband is from. 

We visited Yehe sometime last year and while it made for a nice walk on a sunny day, there wasn’t much to see except for some prints of old photos and a few buildings that have been built from scratch to show what the home of Cixi’s ancestors supposedly looked liked. 

Some say Cixi’s enemies were the ones responsible for planting the rumour about goats being inauspicious animals, because Cixi was born in the year of the goat. Who would have thought?

Today, the year of the goat has made place for the year of the monkey, a supposedly much more favourable animal. Some people forecast a baby boom for this year because not only is it the year of the auspicious Fire Monkey, but also are married Chinese couples now allowed to have two children instead of just one. We’ll still have to see if these predictions hold true, but no matter in which year you’ve been born, I hope the year of the monkey will be a positive one for you!

Have you ever heard of this story?

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