According to the Japanese/Chinese zodiac, 2015 is the Year of the Sheep (Ram), also known as Hitsuji. It is the eighth sign of the zodiac. The following are examples of Sheep years: 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015 and every 12 years hence.

In the English zodiac, the sheep is known as Aries. It is the first sign and applies to those who were born March 21 to April 19.

According to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, the dheep is defined as follows: “Any of a wide variety of cud-chewing, bovine mammals, related to goats….”

An adult male sheep is known as a ram.

An adult female sheep is known as a ewe.

A young sheep is known as a lamb.

The sheep is a somewhat useful animal to human beings because they provide meat as lamb and mutton. (One of my favorite meals is curry lamb stew.) Its skin is used in leather-making parchment and for bookbinding, etc.

It has been said that sheep people have sympathy for others, are gentle and versatile, not proud. However, they tend to be reserved, overly anxious about the future and worry over trivial matters. Since sheep live in flocks peacefully, they are considered as the symbol of a happy family life.

Of course, just because one is born under a certain zodiac sign, it does not necessarily substantiate that one has these traits and/or characteristics. However, there IS a tendency to have a few of the traits of whatever sign one is born under. I have a niece who was born in the Year of the Sheep.

Those who believe in God are sheep. That is to say, disciples of God, who is the Good Shepherd. The Parable of the Lost Sheep in the Bible reveals that if ONE sheep out of 100 is lost, the good shepherd will seek the lost sheep until it is found. It is a parable but illustrates the point, as does the beautiful Psalm 23, known as the Shepherd Psalm. In six verses it assures comfort, hope and a loving shepherd.

In conclusion, may I wish all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2015, especially those who were born in the Year of the Sheep.

Baaaaaa and Amen

Maggie Ishino is a Rafu typist and can be reached at Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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