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Chinese pray for prosperous New Year


Source: | 01-31-2009 11:51

Special Report:   2009 Spring Festival

Colorful celebrations for the Chinese lunar New Year have attracted global attention. Many people see it as a kind of barometer for China's economic performance. Most Chinese are optimistic about the current economic difficulties, while others are uncertain about what's in store for the year of the ox.

People rub a relief sculpture of an ox at the Taoist White Cloud Temple in Beijing on the third day of Chinese New Year celebrations Wednesday Jan. 28, 2009. Millions across China have been celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Ox, marked with a week-long Spring Festival holiday.(AP Photo/Greg Baker)
People rub a relief sculpture of an ox at the Taoist 
White Cloud Temple in Beijing on Chinese New Year 
celebrations. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

On the fifth day of the Lunar New Year, Beijing's White Cloud Temple welcomed thousands of visitors, rich and poor, young and old. They come to greet the God of Wealth, who is believed to have been born on this day. This is a deep rooted tradition that dates back thousands of years. This year, a record number of visitors have flocked to the temple, wishing for a prosperous year.

Wang Qi and her family have been queuing for over an hour to see the God of Wealth. Like everyone else here, she also has a wish.

Wang Qi, Beijing resident, said, "I hope everything will be fine. I don't have too many expectations about money, but it would be great if the praying really works. "

Wang Qi works for the local telecommunication company. Her wish reflects the general feeling of many Chinese hoping for a smooth year.

Spring Festival is China's most important festival by far, and celebrations throughout the country don't seem to have been dampened by the economic crisis. Many families, like Wang Xueyu's, are not thinking too much about worries brought about by the economic slowdown.

Wang Xueyu, Beijing resident, said, "I hope the new year will be a year of happiness for the whole family. I am praying for good health for my child and parents. As an average income earner, I only hope life will be stable. I don't expect any big problems in my work. "

Wang Xueyu works for a real estate company. He admits that it's not as easy to make money now as it was before, and his family needs to learn how to save.

The Spring Festival is traditionally a time for massive spending and business are seeing soaring sales. Many shopping centers are packed with people looking for gifts or items to collect, like gold.

But this year, consumers are more budget-conscious. Bookings have dropped at expensive restaurants and meals are cheaper. Although the government says China's economy is still doing quite well as a whole in trying times, some retailers are feeling the pinch.

Zhao Lei, fireworks vendor, said, "I didn't expect that sales would not be good. I think there are fewer people letting off fire crackers and fireworks during the holiday. Compared to last year, business is down."

Zhao Lei has been selling firecrackers for three years, and this year he has lost some 40,000 yuan in profit. He has to cut prices to attract customers.

Beijing Railway Station is becoming busy again as people return from their hometowns. For most people, especially migrant workers, the festival is also a time to plan their work for the year.

Ke Zhengye, migrant worker, Jiangxi Province, said, "I don't feel much impact from the economic slowdown. Every year, we bring money home and come back to make more money. That's life for us."

Most migrant workers come to big cities to find jobs. Mao Xialin is a construction worker from Central China's Hubei province. Mao Xialin says it's not easy to find work at the moment, so he has come back to the capital earlier than others. He is not sure what kind of work he will find in the coming year and he's still searching.

For Beijingers, the freezing weather and slowdown in economic growth has not affected their celebrations.

Han Bin, reporter, said, "According to traditional belief, the Ox, or Niu in Chinese, is associated with strength, hard-work and bullish markets. Even though the economy is suffering, the Chinese are determined to keep their spirits up, as the Year of the Ox signifies prosperity and success. They also hope the Year of the Ox will bring them good fortune and more luck than the previous year. This is Han Bin, wishing you a happy Niu Year.


Editor:Zhang Yun