'Pigs might fly'
I'm a pig, my son is a rabbit, I have snakes for daughters, and my wife, believe it or not, is a dragon! Do I live in a zoo? No, of course not! I am talking about our Chinese zodiac signs.
Depending on the year of your birth, each person has an animal for a sign. That's why I am a pig and my wife is a dragon.
February the 18th is Chinese New Year and 2007 is the year of the pig, so let's take a closer look at this interesting animal.
Pigs were first domesticated by man about 9,000 years ago, and are still a very common farm animal in many parts of the world. We don't just use pigs for their meat – almost every part of the animal is used. The bones and skin are used for glue and footballs. The hair is used for artists' brushes and insulation. The fat is used in the manufacture of insecticides, floor waxes, rubber and plastics. Amazingly, pigs are a source of nearly 40 pharmaceutical drugs and their heart valves can be used in surgery to replace human ones.
Pigs have also been important in the world of entertainment. In 1995 the film 'Babe' starred a loveable talking pig as its main character. The film won an Oscar and was nominated for 6 more.
In England you can even go to watch pig racing. A farmer, Rob Shepherd, has been raising money for charity by staging pig races on his farm. The events have been very successful. People don't just want to eat pigs, it seems!
Pigs also feature in the English language. To say that something is unlikely to happen you can say "Pigs might fly!" A man that thinks men are superior to women is a "chauvinist pig". Hungry? Well then, you can "pig out" and eat lots of food. And what if someone rescues you? Well, you can say that they "saved your bacon".
If you, like me, were born in the year of the pig, then you are brave, thoughtful and loyal. The year of the pig is filled with good fortune. Happy Chinese New Year!