High number of births in the auspicious Year of the Pig
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 the Pig.
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 atmaternity clinics, keen to have their babies after February 18.
Fortune tellerKang 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 Association.
"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.