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Parental Love Triggers Baby Boom in "Golden Pig Year"
    2007-03-16 18:21:02     CRIENGLISH.com

If you're currently planning a gynecological check at a Chinese hospital, you might want to reconsider your timing. Almost all gynecologists across the country are busy dealing with an unprecedented large number of pregnant mothers-to-be who are anxiously counting on the timely birth of their babies before the end of this Chinese lunar year known as the "golden pig year" (or "jin zhu nian" in Chinese). According to old Chinese customs, such a year only comes every 60 years and is said to be especially auspicious for childbearing.

Apparently, people's beliefs in old mores are spurring a new baby boom all over China. This is particularly true in big cities, where, due to government family planning policies, most couples can only have one child. Many of them are therefore determined to give their only child the best, including an auspicious birthday.

People's beliefs in old mores are spurring a baby boom in China. [File photo]

"Golden Pig Year"

Before adopting the Gregorian calendar, Chinese people used to mark the years with the Chinese lunar calendar, with 10 celestial stems (or "tian gan" in Chinese): "jia," "yi," "bing," "ding," "wu," "ji," "geng," "xin," "ren" and "gui". They were complemented by 12 terrestrial branches (or "di zhi" in Chinese): "zi," "chou," "yin," "mao," "chen," "si," "wu," "wei," "shen," "you," "xu" and "hai."

Starting from the first heavenly stem, "jia," and the first earthly branch, "zi," each year was named respectively after each pair, like "Jia Zi" or "Yi Chou," by combining both a celestial stem and a terrestrial branch together. For this reason, the years sharing the same "name" appear only every six decades.

In addition, the 12 earthly branches on the Chinese lunar calendar are also related to China's traditional "shengxiao" system, a unique system that uses 12 animals (mouse, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, chicken, dog and pig) to mark the years when someone is born. For example, a person born in a year of "yi chou" has the ox as his or her "shengxiao," or birth year icon.

In the Chinese lunar calendar, 2007 is the year of "ding hai" and also the year of the pig. The reason for it being "golden" can be traced back to 637 AD, which was also a "ding hai" year. That year marked the beginning of the famous Reign of Zhenguan in the Tang Dynasty, one of the most prosperous periods in Chinese history. People at the time attributed the prosperity to currency reforms launched in 621 AD, in which the government studied the "zhu"-based monetary system, "zhu" being the name of coins, of the Western Han Dynasty, and issued a new type of currency called "bao," meaning "treasure." Benefiting from a booming economy after the reforms, people in the Tang Dynasty showed their gratitude to the wealth brought on by "zhu" by naming 637 the "golden zhu year." "Zhu" is the same sound for pig in Chinese, hence the "golden pig year."

Coincidental or not, historical records have showed surprising occurrences during "golden pig years" that take place every six decades. A significant number of powerful figures and outstanding heroes were born or discovered in those years. Many great historic works were also either started or completed. Ancient Chinese philosophy believed that the world developed in wave cycles, of approximately every 60 years. Empirically speaking, the year of "ding hai," seemed to be years when things started to take a turn for the better. People born in these years seemed to have better opportunities to become great.

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