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Chinese set to usher in Year of the Serpent

A serpent is seen Snake Culture Museum Zisiqiao village Zhejiang Province China. According 12 signs Chinese zodiac year 2013 marks

A serpent is seen at the Snake Culture Museum in Zisiqiao village, Zhejiang Province, China. According to the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, the year 2013 marks the year of the snake. | AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

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Year of the Serpent

The Year of the Serpent, which succeeds the Year of the Dragon, is expected to be a good year. People born in 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929 and, of course, babies born on and after Feb. 8 are serpents according to the Chinese zodiac.

Fear not the serpents, which are known as little dragons. They are supposed to be wise, enigmatic, artistic, quick-minded and with know-how to make a strike in business. Among famous serpents are Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, Kim Basinger, Ryan O’Neal and Oprah Winfrey.

The Chinese zodiac consists of a 12-year cycle, each representing by an animal. Besides the serpent, the others are: Rabbit, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger and dragon.

— Long Hwa-shu

Updated: March 10, 2013 6:15AM

NANJING, China — You may have a second chance to start 2013 afresh a la the Chinese New Year.

The Year of the Serpent begins today, Feb. 8. Called the Spring Festival, the lunar New Year is equivalent to Thanksgiving and Christmas combined.

It lasts 15 days. Already, people are rushing home by plane, train, bus and even motor bike for family reunions. The roads in China are jammed with motor traffic and stores are filled with goods and holiday gifts gaily packaged in gold and red, colors favored by the Chinese. Red means good luck and gold prosperity.

Wei Hung-wei, a Nanjing real estate agent, said his office will close on the eve of the New Year, and like many other businesses, won’t open until 15 days later. Government offices will close also, although for much a shorter period.

“It has been a good year. Next year, hopefully, will even be better,” he said confidently of the city’s bullish the real estate market.

Wei, who drives a Buick sedan, is constantly on his cellphone. In China, it seems nearly everyone has a cellphone, making it reputedly the world’s largest cell phone market. There are Apple stores here and there, although it seems the Samsung brand is quite popular.

While stopping by at a Starbucks in downtown Nanjing near the three-story Walmart, a Ford executive and his wife from Detroit, accompanied by a real estate agent, were looking to lease a house or an apartment for three years.

“I’ve been assigned here for three years,” he said, alluding to plans Ford has to build a factory in Nanjing, with a population of more than seven million, to cater to the fast-growing Chinese market.

Volkswagen already has a factory in Nanjing. Rolls-Royce has a dealership in downtown amid stores like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, along with KFC and McDonald’s which underlines the prosperity of the city, which is gearing up for some of the games of the 2014 Olympics.

Family reunion is the main theme for the Chinese to celebrate their New Year with a New Year’s Eve dinner when gifts are exchanged, old acquaintanceship renewed and firecrackers lighted.

It is not unusual for such a dinner to consist of 10 to 12 courses. Indispensable is a whole fish dish because fish rimes with surplus. The Chinese like to start a new year with a surplus.

Nanjing residents are eagerly looking forward to the elaborate New Year variety show on China Central Television (CCTV) from Beijing which can be viewed in the Chicago area via Dish Network. Bear in mind there’s 13-hour time difference between China and Chicago.

Waukegan resident Long Hwa-shu will celebrate the Chinese New Year in Nanjing, where he was born.

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