Gearing up for the Spring Festival

Updated: 2008-02-03 11:14

Red couplets, red lanterns, red paper-cuts, red fireworks, red Chinese knots and more – there's even red underwear. But it's not just red that's all around – there are rats, rats and more rats.

According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the upcoming Spring Festival heralds the New Year of the Rat, and as the country gets ready for this festive occasion, a spending binge is taking place.

" The sales volume is the best this month. It goes on till the 30th of lunar calendar. This is best time of the year," says a candy sales girl in a department store in Beijing.

Despite tremendous traffic, and major transportation disruptions brought about by unprecedented snowfalls, hundreds of millions of people are all heading home:

The reason for the largest migration is the tradition of spending the festivities at home.

" Though it is hard to get a ticket back home at this time of the year, but this is a time of family reunion, I have to go home," explained a man from Central China's Henan Province.

Expats in the middle kingdom are also swept up in the festival spirit and many are taken back by the people's devotion to tradition and family.

"Everything is like a fairytale, because you can see the decoration, you can hear the fireworks for about an hour right after the midnight," Olga Stepanova, a young Russian woman, told

The Year of the Rat also marks the world's great expectations towards Beijing, the host city of the 2008 summer Olympic Games.

"I wish China in this year to stage the great, great Olympics, and everybody comes to see that," Stepanova added.


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