Chinese communities around the world are gearing up Thursday for the Lunar New Year holiday that begins at midnight. Mainland China will virtually shut down for the next seven days, and many residents of the polluted capital, Beijing, already have departed for holiday destinations.
A continuing campaign against waste and corruption foreshadows more modest celebrations this year, while a crackdown on air pollution seems to be reining in the usual orgy of fireworks.
Airports, train and bus stations have seen a crush of holiday travelers, with migrant workers making the lengthy trip back to their rural hometowns and prosperous urban dwellers heading to vacations abroad.
On self-governing Taiwan, revelers jammed into the capital Taipei's historic shopping district to load up on holiday snacks. Koreans and Vietnamese also celebrate the holiday.
After all it’s the Lunar New Year and the Chinese Year of the Horse. The horse is part of a 12-year-cycle of animals that make up the Chinese zodiac. These interact with the five elements: wood, metal, fire, water, earth. 2014 is the year of the wood horse, taking over from the year of the water snake.
It will be a fast year full of conflicts according to some astrologers, who see wood as providing fuel for the energetic horse sign. The later part of the year is “yin fire”, increasing the potential for heated clashes even more. Feng shui practitioner Raymond Lo told Reuters: “The upcoming Horse year is also a 'yang wood' year, when people will stick more to their principles and stand firm. So it is hard to negotiate or compromise as there are more tendencies for people to fight for their ideals.”
If you have a business involving wood or fire you will do well, according to Canadian Feng Shui expert Paul Ng. This includes lumber companies, agriculture and media companies. Property companies won’t do as well and as the horse is a galloper, the potential is for the prices to gallop downwards over the first six months. However, supported by the fire element in the latter half of the year they may gallop back up, according to Lynn Yap, Singapore's Feng Shui Queen. Metals and waters will do badly: this will affect metal mining and precious metals as well as fishing. Financial business also have the potential to be unstable.
Countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like South Australia and South America may experience gunfire as well as volcanoes, because “ the fire energies are so strong” according to Chinese astrologer and Sydney Feng Shui master Lok Tin.
When horse meets horse, the natural Ying-Yang opposition is no longer balanced and thus over the next year horses are due some tense situations and pressure in their personal life. However Foon Chik, of the Feng Shui Society says it is not that simple and meeting your own sign can be a time for self-reflection.