As the Year of the Dragon started Monday, Asian countries around the world began bracing for a baby boom because the Dragon is considered the most mighty in the Chinese Zodiac.
In countries including China, Taiwan, and Singapore -- and corresponding immigrant communities here in New York -- some families hoping for an extra lucky addition have been planning births this year.
Marian Tan Johnson, and her husband, Kevin, celebrated the New Year with traditional sweets in their Fort George apartment, counting their lucky stars that the biggest treat of all, their daughter on-the-way, has been patient and hasn't arrived yet.
Already full term, her mother-to-be had a scare the day before the new year, when contractions suddenly started, but it was a false alarm.
“We were hoping and praying that she would hang in there and be a Dragon baby, and she did,” said Johnson.
There are 12 animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. The Year of the Dragon is considered the most auspicious, and because of that, birth rates are expected to jump across Asia.
“We’ve sort of been holding our breath for the last couple of weeks,” said Kevin Johnson, “because we knew we were so close.”
Christopher Livaccari, the director of education and Chinese language initiatives at the Asia Society on Manhattan’s East Side, explained the significance of the Dragon sign.
“In terms of the relevance of the Dragon, it has been traditionally associated with the Emperor. It is the only mythical creature in the Chinese Zodiac and so it kind of enjoys that special status.”
According to the Zodiac, those born under the Dragon sign are creative forces of nature, full of ambition and blessed with wealth. They are considered the most powerful.
Besides a Zodiac animal, every year has an element assigned to it as well. The element for 2012 is Water, a particularly auspicious pairing for the Dragon.
“Apparently Water Dragons are somewhat subdued by that Water element, so the Dragons born in this year are actually more collaborative and cooperative than Dragons born in other Dragon years,” said Livaccari.
“A lot of parents really want their children to have a leg up, and they plan ahead,” said Marian Tan Johnson.
In China, experts predict a 5 percent boost in births. For the Johnsons, no real planning came into play but a Dragon baby certainly means extra excitement.