The Chinese Lunar New Year began today across many parts of Asia, with a dragon symbol that promises strength, benevolence and good luck, CBS News said.
Asian families consider the Spring Festival their most important, and travel thousands of miles to be reunited. It’s also the longest festival of the year, beginning on the first day of the calendar and stretching 15 days until the first full moon.
The dragon is especially exciting for some because the ancient symbol once reserved for the emperor, and it’s the only mythical creature among the 12 zodiac animals, CBS News said.
Such an auspicious symbol is also spurring a baby-making boom as Chinese couples try for a “dragon baby.”
According to The Telegraph, May 2 is considered the deadline for delivering a child in the Year of the Dragon, which ends next Feb. 9.
Beijing nannies are doubling their rates, and hospital beds are booked until August, The Telegraph says.
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes that dragon babies will reverse his nation’s declining birth rate. The rate dropped to 1.15 in 2010, but the prime minister anticipates a 10 per cent increase similar to the last two years of the dragon in 2000 and 1988.
"I fervently hope that this will be a big 'dragon' year for babies," he said in The Telegraph. "This is critical to preserve a Singapore core in our society. We don't want to rely more and more heavily on immigration, nor do we want to see our population shrinking year by year."
A dragon baby is almost non-negotiable for some tiger moms in the US.
Many couples are undertaking extreme measures to ensure a baby this year.
The Agency for Surrogacy Solutions and Global IFV Inc. in Los Angeles reports a 250 per cent increase in Chinese or Chinese-American customers in January, co-founders Kathryn Kaycoff-Manos and Lauri Berger de Brito told the Wall Street Journal.
Babies born in a year of the dragon are "the strongest, smartest and the luckiest—supposedly," Prof. Yibing Huang at Connecticut College told the WSJ.
In China, many dread making the trip home, said Voice of America. An estimated three billion trips are made at this time of year.
A survey of migrant workers by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs discovered 70 per cent waver about traveling home.
On the popular Baidu.com, the Chinese term for “afraid to go home” was among the hottest trending searches, VOA said.
It seems the Chinese dread, as much as North Americans, questions about romance and finances from their parents.
"Instead of concentrating on the level of riches one has, people should focus on the sense of happiness they get from celebrating chunjie (New Year) as it should, with one's family," Beijing University sociologist Zhou Xiaozheng writes on Sohu.com, according to VOA.
In the United States, the Lunar New Year is a popular event in New York City. According to those who live there, New York’s Chinatown is the largest in the US. Mike Lee is once again performing the lion dance for revelers.
"You want to pass it along to each generation," Lee told VOA. "It's part of the Chinese culture, and you don't want to put something like this on the backburner and not carry it on."