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February 12, 2010

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It's the lore: Year of Tiger not time to say 'I do'

FOR many Chinese, the Year of the Tiger promises to roar in more economic prowess and global clout for their country, but couples planning to get married are better off waiting until 2011 according to tradition.

Twelve animals make up the traditional Chinese zodiac, with each year having its own peculiar beliefs, some specific to certain provinces, such as being especially an auspicious time to give birth or open a new business.

The tiger sign is believed to bring with it mythical heroic powers, but the coming Lunar New Yearis said to be an inauspicious one for marriage.

"If you marry this year, your husband may die earlier," said Joyce Lin, 25, a university graduate. "My parents are not superstitious, so I am also not, but in our opinionit is not a good time for marriage."

In the eastern province of Anhui, some people think that having a "tiger baby" is not a good idea.

The feeling is that the child may be too aggressive.

Babies born in the afternoonare seen as "hungry tigers," meaning that they will have problemsfinding food later in life, someresidents in Anhui believe.

But many younger Chinese choose to follow only certain traditions.

Huo Yuan, 20, said she planned to make dumplings with her family on Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls tomorrow, and would avoid cutting her hair.

"From the eve, for one month, you cannot cut your hair. If you cut it you will die earlier," said Yuan as she shopped at a Beijing mall.

Zhang Yingzhou, a student in Beijing, said he would try not to buy new shoes for a month after the holiday.

"The word for shoes, xie, has the same sound as the word for something evil, so if you buy shoes it is like you are buying misfortune," Zhang said.

For the economy though, the Year of the Tiger is expected to see an even stronger recovery in 2010.

"The animal is full of energy and power," said Raymond Lo, a Hong Kong-based feng shui master.

"Tiger is the birthplace of fire, it generates optimism in the stock market. We expect, in the summer time, that the fire will get stronger and the stock market to be quite active," he told Reuters.

Xiao Shuwen, 80, expected China would improve its standing on the global stage in the new year.

"Each year gets better and better. We have more trade and prosperity," said the retired schoolteacher as she shopped for sweets ahead of the weekend celebrations in Beijing.

"This will also be a good year for international dialogue and communication."

In large Chinese cities, tiger paraphernalia is pervasive. Many clothing stores in Shanghai and Beijing are displaying cut-out tiger photos in place of mannequin heads and streets are festooned with tiger emblems.

"Why? It's the Year of the Tiger," said one shop assistant in Beijing. "It is a tradition to display it like this."


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