January 26 is the first day of the New Year for people from East Asia and everybody else who celebrates the occasion too. When I lived in the Berkeley a number of years ago, the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade was huge and wonderful and included everything from lion dancers to bagpipers!
As I understand it, the animals in the Chinese Zodiac are all noble in their way, but it occurs to me to use it as a springboard to label some of the ignoble developments in recent years. We've had Years of the Dragon's Teeth (Greek myth: from the teeth of a dragon sown in the ground, armed men spring up.) And we've had Years of the Sheep. (Timid beasts, strong herd instinct, not very smart. We weren't thinking because we were all out shopping.) There's been more than one Year of the Cock-a-whoop (being in a state of boastful elation or askew.)
This is the Year of the Ox. Per Page One of today's Houston Chronicle, the Ox is dependable, calm, modest, and the best kind of good friend. Wikipedia offers, "the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work.... patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint....not extravagant...." Says the San Francisco Chronicle, "They do not back down in the face of obstacles."
President Obama is an Ox person. That sounds propitious. For that matter, this year we should all do our best to be oxen too!