Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Search of Air Algerie crash site continues

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Sarkozy, Hollande and the scooter wars

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Confusion online over Air Algérie flight

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - July 25th, 2014

Read more

REPORTERS

Halal tourism on the rise

Read more

ENCORE!

Tunisia's Carthage International Festival turns 50

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

WWI Centenary: the battle for Verdun

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

When big companies want to do good

Read more

  • Limited 12-hour humanitarian truce takes effect in Gaza

    Read more

  • Video: 'Lack of security' at MH17 crash site, FRANCE 24 reports

    Read more

  • In pictures: Devastation, debris at Air Algérie crash site

    Read more

  • Paris march for Gaza to go ahead Saturday despite police ban

    Read more

  • Kerry due in Paris for new round of Gaza ceasefire talks

    Read more

  • Washington Post reporter and his wife arrested in Iran

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Lithuania’s Navardauskas wins 19th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • LA Times wipes France off the map in air crash infographic

    Read more

  • Fans electrify the mood as Tour de France crosses the Pyrenees

    Read more

  • French lawyer files complaint against Israel at ICC

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Halal tourism on the rise

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

Asia-pacific

China welcomes 'Year of the Horse' with Sophie Marceau

© Afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-31

Fireworks lit up the skies across Asia and millions of families gathered on Friday to celebrate the Year of the Horse, kicking off a week of celebrations including a performance by Sophie Marceau on China's annual televised gala.

More than a billion Chinese rang in the Lunar New Year, the country's most important holiday, with feasting on traditional dumplings and rice cakes and the exchanging of hongbao, red envelopes filled with money.

On Thursday, Beijing was a cacophany of sound as residents took to the streets to light firecrackers – traditionally believed to scare away evil spirits – into the wee hours of Friday.

But by morning, the capital was mostly quiet, as most of the migrant workers who comprise more than a third of its 20 million population had left the city to celebrate with family.

Some 245 million migrant workers across China filled planes, trains and buses to return to their hometowns for the holiday in what is the world's largest annual human migration.

Chinese communities across Asia also came together to celebrate, marking the holiday with flowers and offerings. Hong Kong was due to hold its massive fireworks display over Victoria Harbour on Saturday, the second day of the new year.

The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and Chinese folklore ascribes an animal to each year of the 12-year cycle.

The horse, which comes seventh in the cycle, is traditionally associated with loyalty and energy. The phrase for "at once" in Chinese literally means "on horseback" and some popular New Year cards this year have featured money, houses or cars on horseback, expressing the sender's wish for speedy good fortune for the receiver.

This year, however, is set to be a dramatic one, according to Hong Kong feng-shui masters, as it is the Year of the Wood Horse. Conflicts, disasters, record-high temperatures and an economic slowdown in Asia all lie in wait this year, celebrity feng-shui master Alion Yeo told AFP earlier this week.

State broadcaster CCTV aired its annual five-hour gala, a tradition dating back to 1983 and featuring comedians, dancers and singers. The hugely popular programme last year drew 750 million viewers in China alone, according to the broadcaster.

For 24 years it featured Peng Liyuan, the wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is a soprano singer with the rank of army general. She retired from the show shortly after her husband joined China's Politburo in 2007.

This year it featured French actress Marceau, who performed Edith Piaf's signature song, La Vie En Rose, in a duet with Chinese pop star Liu Huan.

But Chinese rocker Cui Jian, who inspired the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement and was in talks to perform on the show, did not feature. The Beijing News daily quoted his manager as saying he had refused to "change the words" of his songs.

In additional to giving traditional hongbao, or red envelopes, some Chinese this year have taken to sending Lunar New Year money by smartphone.

The popular mobile chat app WeChat, which has more than 600 million subscribers, this week introduced a new feature allowing users to send an electronic new year "envelope" of up to 200 yuan ($33), the China Daily reported.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-01-31

  • CHINA

    Chinese now drink more red wine than the French

    Read more

  • FRANCE - CHINA

    France to shed ‘Amélie’ image after 50 years of China ties

    Read more

  • IN PICTURES

    Chinese city celebrates 30th ice sculpture festival

    Read more

COMMENT(S)