Christian Living

chinaconnection 02/07/08

China Ushers in the Year of the Rat

Happy New Year!  Today hundreds of millions of Chinese around the world will celebrate their most important holiday of the year, the Lunar New Year, and start of the Spring Festival.  While the Spring Festival traditionally lasts 15 days, most countries only have official holidays for the first three. 

This year Chinese say farewell to the Year of the Pig and welcome the Year of the Rat, fresh off the challenges of record cold temperatures and vicious storms.  With vulnerable stock markets over the past month, millions of Chinese unable to return home to visit their families, and anticipation for the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, it seems this year has the potential to be one of the most dramatic in recent years.

Overall, the Year of the Rat isn't generally as popular as the Year of the Dragon or Tiger, but this year of 2008 in the Western calendar is especially significant for Chinese.  The number 8 often signifies wealth and prosperity, and the fact that the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games will occur August 8, 2008 (or 8-8-08) at 8:08 pm and 8 seconds is not just a fortunate coincidence. 

With so much anticipation and excitement for the Olympics, it might seem like the most exciting celebration this year won't really occur for six more months.  Every twelve months brings a different New Year, but for China, hosting the Olympic Games may be the opportunity of a lifetime. 

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