01/27/2006, 00.00
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Asia's "migrations" begin to celebrate the Year of the Dog

The Chinese Lunar New Year begins this year on January 29th.  The people of Asia seem to forget the threat of avian flu in the rush to join their families for celebrations.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – On January 29th the Year of the Dog begins across Asia.  According to the Chinese horoscopes the new year will bring happiness but also problems.  This period – says the horoscope – is dominated by a wind of idealism, laden with ideas of honesty and justice, bringing with it conflict and revolt which will favour un conventional ideas and social reform.  Now is the time to sow if you wish to reap in years to come. 

Millions of people will travel during the month long celebration.  Last year in China, over two billion tickets were sold.  Millions of people who live far from their native home, by car train or plane make their way home to be with their families.  Tradition dictates that New Year is a time of union, in which the door is closet on the past in the hope of a better future.  Pride of place on every table, a large whole fish, symbol of family harmony and unity and a festive chicken menu.

The threat of avian flu does not seem to perturb Asian migrants, for they have not cancelled flights and supermarkets are crowded in the rush top put chicken on the table.  Neither has the World Health Organisation  shown particular signs of concern about the millions of people in movement for the month of New Year celebrations.


CHINA – For over 5000 Chinese culture marks its own path of time by consulting the horoscope.  The system which regulates it is based on a ten year cycle, in which each year is marked by an animal.  2006 falls beneath the sign of the Dog.

Those born in the year of the Dog are the best of friends, loyal and honest but also anxious and cynical.  The sign of the Dog is the guardian of the Chinese zodiac:  at the first sign deceit or injustice it is ready to bark and bite in defence of all the members of his pack, therefore the entire human race.  

According to an ancient Chinese proverb "when one dog alone barks at a shadow ten thousand dogs make of it a reality".  


TAIWAN - "New Year is also referred to as the Festival of Spring and it is the most important holiday of the year, everyone wants to join their families as soon as possible"  says Kuo Yao-chi, Minister for Transport as he observes the movement of over 7.5 million Taiwanese across the island.  Over a third of the total population will jam the transport system . Moreover during the lunar New Year it's possible to travel directly between Taiwan and China.  Direct links between the two countries have been banned since the civil war.


HONG KONG – Official figures estimate that over 6.5 million people, almost the entire Hong Kong population, will be on the move into, or out of the city limits.


INDONESIA – Indonesians of Chinese origins are preparing for celebrations, dressing temples with festive decorations.   Despite the celebrations, the problem of discrimination against Indonesians of chinese origins remains.  Indonesia is officially a democracy based on equality, but remnants of the old regime of General Suharto can still be seen in ongoing problems of discrimination.  Until 1998, the year the regime fell, Chinese New Year celebrations were outlawed.  The ethnic minority were seen by Suharto as a threat to his potential communist sympathies.  The discriminations remain and today Christians of Chinese origins are often the focus of this abuse by the majority Muslim population.


VIETNAM – The lunar New Year takes the name of  Tet, which means "first morning of the first day of the new year".  Preparations begin a week ahead of time, the streets fill with vendors of miniature orange trees or cay hoa dao, small peach trees in flower.  During Tet,  it is tradition to plant a plant in front of the home , usually bamboo is chosen.   


KOREA – The first day of the lunar New Year is called Sol-nal. New clothes are worn by all the symbol of a new beginning.  The menu for the spring festival is dominated by ttokkuk, a rice and cereal soup which according to Korean tradition has the power to prolong life.

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