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January 1, 2014

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Lasers, bells and kisses on a magical end to 2013

Huge crowds braved the chill to pack the Bund, Longhua Temple, Xintiandi, Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, shopping centers and many other places in Shanghai to say farewell to 2013 and welcome 2014.

Laser light shows were held in various places including both sides of the Bund where around 300,000 gathered to see the displays. Historic buildings and the Huangpu River were lit up with splashes of color to mark the arrival of the new year.

A laser show featuring a fun and magical trip of a local boy nicknamed Xiao Q, or little Q, wowed viewers on the Bund.

New Year’s Eve might have proved a special one for lovers. The last two figures of the old year and the new make 1314, or yi san yi si, sounding like the Chinese for “forever.” So people believe the person they were with last night might be with them forever.

Along those lines, a “Kissing 2014” party was held at Xintiandi, where couples, friends and families kissed each other and had their pictures taken, with each kiss generating a donation to charity.

“We hope we can love each other forever,” a young couple said as they embraced.

People also gathered at temples to make their best wishes for the new year. They flocked to Longhua Temple for the traditional bell-tolling ceremony. Ringing bells 108 times is believed to absolve sin and bring good luck for the year ahead.

The bell ringing ceremony was being held for the 26th consecutive year. Every person attending got a lotus lamp and about 10,000 lanterns were lit when the clock struck midnight.

While many people were enjoying parties and countdown events, spending was underway in the city’s main shopping centers.

Gold products, clothes and shoes, electronic products and air purifiers were best-sellers in the year-end sales.

One woman was filmed by a local television station purchasing some 900,000 yuan (US$145,161) worth of gold products for her son’s wedding.

In search of gold bargains, people started to line up outside the Nextage Department Store in the Pudong New Area on Monday night. Long queues had formed by yesterday morning and the store opened at 7am, one hour earlier than usual, to let the customers in.

Lunchtime was particularly busy in many shopping malls as yesterday was still a working day and the break was an opportunity for those still at work to snap up a bargain.

At the New World Department Store on Nanjing Road, each cashier’s desk had a queue at least 10 meters long.

“Some goods have more than 60 percent off. It’s a good opportunity for shopping,” a customer surnamed Gu said.

The store extended its opening hours to 2am today instead of closing at 10pm as usual.

Among the crowds welcoming 2014 was Nicola O’Dwyer from Ireland who said her new year resolution was “to explore China.”

Wu Mi, a 21-year-old student of Fudan University said she wanted a better environment, especially better air quality.

She wished that people would stop smoking.

Tony Daryanani from India, the 45-year-old owner of a tailor’s shop, said he hoped people would spend more time talking to each other and less on mobile phone apps like WeChat.

“I also pray that the sky clears, though scientifically it will not be easy. But we need to provide a better future for our kids,” he said.

As it bids farewell to 2013, Shanghai will look forward to many great achievements in the year ahead. The Shanghai Tower,

China’s tallest and the world’s second tallest building, is expected to finish construction in the Lujiazui financial hub in Pudong.

The Shanghai Museum of Natural History will open its doors in Jing’an District early this year.

More detailed rules about the Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone, which was set up in 2013, will be released in the first half of this year making it even more attractive for companies from both home and abroad.

Last but not least, the new year will mark the 15th anniversary of Shanghai Daily, the nation’s only regional English-language daily newspaper. We will continue to work hard to bring you even more interesting stories over the 12 months to come.



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