A baby boom is about to hit parts of Asia, as couples try to ensure
their newborns get a happy, wealthy life by starting off in the Year of
This Chinese lunar new year, which starts on February 18, is believed
to be an especially auspicious "golden pig
year" which only comes around every 60 years.
South Korea is going a step further, saying it's the best time in 600
years to have a baby due to an anomaly on the Chinese calendar where this
pig year -- known as "red," the color of wealth, follows a year with two
days to mark the start of spring.
In China, where most families are allowed only one child, baby-related
businesses are bracing for an influx of "piglets " .
"The Year of the Pig will certainly be busy. There will be a lot of
precious pigs born this year, because of the Chinese superstition that pig
babies will have an easy life," said Tian Hua, who manages a nanny
sourcing firm in Shanghai.
Tian's firm specializes in caring for mothers and infants during the
first month after birth, when Chinese tradition holds that a woman should
rest and eat special foods.
Her 200 nannies are booked through July, and the company has raised
prices by up to 45 percent, she said. Hospitals in mainland China and Hong
Kong are also heavily booked.
In South Korea, which has one of the world's lowest birth rates, the
Year of the Pig could herald the bundles of joy that years of government
incentives have failed to create.
South Korea has seen a recent rush of expectant mothers at
maternity clinics , keen to
have their babies after February 18.
Fortune teller Kang
Pan-seok, however, says 2007 is not the super lucky event it's been hyped
up to be.
"The government is selling people on the golden pig year in order to
have more babies," said Kang, vice director of the Korean Fortune Tellers
"This is just a red pig year, but I don't mind because I have been
swamped with customers seeking advice."
But the red or golden debate does not matter to South Korean companies,
who are interested in the color of money.