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Enter the Ox: Chinese New Year Celebrations Start Now

Where: China
January 25, 2009 at 11:56 AM | by | ()

It's time once again for the Lunar New Year, as millions of people in China and around the world get ready to enter the Year of the Ox. According to tradition (and USA Today), Chinese people return to their homes to deliver hong bao (red envelopes stuffed with money) to family and friends, eat dumplings, and watch lion dances and fireworks at nearby temples.

It sounds like fun, but it's also a logistical wonder. With so many Chinese now living and working in cities that are far from their ancestral villages, the annual trek becomes one of the largest human migrations on earth, with 63.4 million trips taken on Saturday alone. I wonder how they deal with all that air, train, and vehicle traffic. Do travelers in China get as angry about delays and cancellations as we do in the west? (Oh yeah, they do.)

As far as the ox is concerned, it symbolizes "calm, hard work, resolve and tenacity," attributes that seem particularly important during a global recession. Better still, this year's ox is an "Earth Ox," hopefully reminding people of the importance of protecting our natural resources.

Every major city with a sizable Chinese community will have a New Year's celebration of some kind. In New York, Monday's Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival will feature lion, dragon, and unicorn dance troupes, as well as the only (legal) firecrackers in the city. Los Angeles will have its Golden Dragon Parade next Saturday, with more than 100,000 revelers lining the parade route. And in China, well, just follow the dumplings.

[Photo: wisegorilla.com]

Related Stories
· China Prepares for Lunar New Year Celebrations [USA Today]
· Ringing In the Year of the Ox [Washington Post]
· Chinese New Year Coverage [Jaunted]

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