02/17/2007, 00.00
CHINA
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Over 2 billion trips for Year of the Pig

The government is expecting more than 2.17 billion passenger trips. Today 155 million people headed for home. The Year of the Pig is held to especially auspicious and a baby boom is expected.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – More than 155 million Chinese people have started out today to return home for the Lunar New Year. Celebrations begin tomorrow and last 15 days. During the holidays, people are expected to make 2.17 billion trips, an absolute record.

The trip home to celebrate the New Year, also known as the Spring Festival since 1911, is the only time of the year that China’s army of migrant workers spends with their families. As per tradition, before starting to feast, debts are paid and presents bought.

Celebrations and parties will be held in these days in all the big cities. In Shanghai, dance and costume parades reflecting Chinese tradition are planned as well as music and performances, flower markets and firework displays over water.

In more austere Beijing, people worked today and public celebrations will take place tomorrow in all the capital’s main meeting places. In Hong Kong, businesses will close their shutters from today to 21 February. Artists from around the world are gathering in the city for the New Year Parade.

In eastern tradition, the Spring Festival is the time to take on new concerns, big or small, and to close the year’s accounts, paying all debts. In the days following the new year, people visit Taoist temples to learn their fortune. Augural writings are pinned up on the doors of houses and outside shops, wishing “success in all enterprises”, “great wealth” and hoping things get “better every year”.

The verses hung in homes are about wealth, long life, many children and successful careers like “Many all your wishes come true” or “10,000 generations”. Christians usually put up phrases from the Gospel and wish each other God’s blessings.

The year to come is that of the pig of fire, which falls once every 60 years and is held to be especially auspicious. Hospitals across the country say they are expecting a baby boom because the Chinese horoscope predicts fortune, health and happiness for those born under this sign.

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