Sunday, January 25, 2009

Celebrating the Spring Festival-Year of the Ox

Jubilant Chinese bear hope on Year of Ox

by Xinhua Writers Guo Likun, Wu Jing

BEIJING, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Jubilant Chinese are celebrating the biggest festivity, the Lunar New Year which not only arouses spending spree but also triggers the world's largest human movement for family re-unions.

Celebrations are everywhere -- fireworks in towns and villages, entertainment in houses and public venues, 188 million homebound railway travelers, crowds of people competing for New Year spending, and flocks of Chinese tourists who choose to stay a little quiet in foreign scenic spots.

As a Lunar New Year Eve ritual, hundreds of millions of television viewers have sit up until midnight watching the entertainment gala produced by the China Central Television (CCTV) since the 1980s when many Chinese tried to find fun through electronic devices such as the television.

Innovative people even have rehearsed their own versions of the CCTV Lunar New Year entertaining show, vying for their elite competitor, which monopolizes super stars, celebrities and lavish advertisers. Many young netizens exhibited enthusiasm about viewing the Shanzhai TV show, which indicates both mimicking and mockery of the elite version of the gala.

In the joyous atmosphere everywhere, "Happy Niu(Ox) Year" became the most popular greetings among Chinese in the run-up of the Year of Ox, the second animal sign of the indigenous zodiac. The New Year Day, or Spring Festival, falls on Jan. 26 this year.

The Chinese pronunciation of "ox" happens to coincide with the English pronunciation of "new". Meanwhile, the zodiacal sign of the animal represents good luck in Chinese culture. "Happy Niu (Ox) Year" first appeared in a song on the Internet, and was immediately widely spread via mobile phone text messages.

"People who came up with the greeting words surely expect a good start for the new year, since they have had too many ups and downs in the past year," said Yuan Li, a scholar specialized in folk-custom with the Chinese Academy of Arts.

The Chinese people underwent the frosting disaster in the beginning of 2008, witnessed the turbulence of the March 14 Lhasa riots, suffered the Wenchuan earthquake in southwest Sichuan Province, witnessed the grand Beijing Olympics, and then the trauma of the tainted milk scandal which killed at least six babies and poisoned hundreds of thousands of others.

"Under such a situation, the year of the Ox certainly will have much greater impact than before, " said a well-known Chinese humanist Li Hanqiu.

In supermarkets in Chinese cities, household decorations, toys, paper-cuts and even pillows were made in the shape of an ox or with the image of an ox. "Products connected to the ox all had a good market," said a shop assistant surnamed Jiang with the Beijing Modern Plaza.

"We hope that the year of the Ox bring us an up-turn in the stock market, " said a Beijing stockholder surnamed Zhang. In his mid-30s, Zhang has put into the stock market two-thirds of his deposit and almost had no profit.

Zhang, however, was not that pessimistic, since the government has promised to invest 4 trillion yuan (584.74 billion U.S. dollars) to boost the economy, and China's GDP of 2008 realized an increasing rate by 9 percent.

Chinese farmers also celebrates the upcoming ox year in a special way. They have their farming cattle compete with each other to see which one is stronger and more diligent.

"People with good farming cattle will have a big harvest, " a farmer surnamed Li in Hongcun village of Yixian County in central China's Anhui Province voiced their blind worship.

Even in the quake-hit Sichuan Province, people also prepared to welcome a new year in a simple yet traditional way with the help of the central and local governments, which have schemed three trillion yuan worth of reconstruction projects.

In the worst-hit Yingxiu Town, some villagers hang a preserved ham atop the pillar of the mobile homes, and some pasted blessing son doors and windows.

To give eight family members a happy festival, Peng Sha in Fengxiang village of Yingxiu has spent about 600 yuan on food. Wearing new velveteen donated by Hong Kong compatriots, children of Peng's family could not help themselves from eating the candies prepared for the Ox Year's eve.

"Ox year may have a much greater impact for disaster-hit people," said Yuan Li. "People may better understand the spirit for diligence, tolerance and persistence from the ox."

Jian Xiaojun, a 27-year villager in the quake-hit Xuankou Town has moved into his new homes near the national highway. "I will open up a small hotel with a small canteen, and grow vegetables and feed some livestock in the backyard."

"Life will be better in the year of Ox, I believe," Jian said, although he was still in debt for the construction of his new home.

"Ox symbolized land and was beloved by farmers from the very beginning in human history," said Li Hanqiu, noting that "the firm and persistent spirit of ox also highlights Chinese people's faith for life".

The history of the People's Republic of China (PRC) seemed to echo people's high expectation for the year of Ox. It was in 1949,the year of the Ox, that the People's Republic was founded. And in1997, also the year of the Ox, the PRC took over the sovereignty exercised over Hong Kong.

Chinese believed that good and bad luck always comes in turn, therefore, after a full-year of hardship in 2008, we will meet a much brighter 2009, said a netizen named "Mu'er".

In deafening explosion of firecrackers welcoming the new year throughout the nation, bad news were still there. The sixth case of human avian flu was confirmed Sunday in southwestern Guizhou Province. The patient in a critical condition got infected with the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, costing four lives since the beginning of the calendar year. A bad weather-causing shipwreck in a Shandong Province lake Friday evening killed at least eight passengers.

Noticing the nationwide eagerness for the year of the Ox, Li Hanqiu said Chinese people still need to work hard in 2009, since challenges and risks will still exist.


Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Makes you wonder why we can't celebrate our New Year like this... it looks like so much fun and so 'bright'...
Hugs to ya...

Nyla said...

this was very interesting. a friend of mine just did my chinese astrology chart last week. i am an ox!

love that last pic. such cuteness.

A Cuban In London said...

Happy Chinese New Year!

Greetings from London.

Jeanne said...

Fabulous I love all you share
Gorgeous photographs

Mamacita said...

Wonderful pictures. Interesting story. I hope they use the diligence of the Ox to start making numerous and faster referrals!!!

kerri said...

Gong Xi Fa Cai, hope you have a wonderful celebration!

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

Happy New Year to you and your family ;)

Lisa said...

Beautiful images. Thanks for posting this. Happy new year!

José Luis said...

Happy Chinese New Year.
My best wishes to you and your family.
Feliz año 4707 desde Andalucía.

Samosas for One said...

Happy New Year!

Steffie B. said...

Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family....

Gillian said...

Yoli Happy celebrating to you and your family!
I love the Chinese astrology! It is fascinating to me.
I loved too your sidebar book recommendations, there are lots of new reads for me there.

Princess Haiku said...

Happy New Years from Northern Cal,
Princess Haiku

paris parfait said...

It's wonderful how the whole country really goes to great lengths to celebrate. Those photos are terrific. Hope you and your cherubs had a lovely weekend and celebration! xoxox

Hajar said...

Happy Chinese New Year! May the year of the Ox bring forth ample happiness, prosperity and good health to you and your loved ones!

Thanks for sharing the photos & news. Btw, I wonder ... which year are you born in? ^^

My Castle in Spain said...

Happy Chinese New Year to you Yoli !!
enjoy the celebrations !

(te mando un email este fin de semana sobre blogger porque es un poco largo de explicar)

Vivian M said...

Beautiful images, thank you for sharing! Happy Chinese New Year!