China shuts down for a week to celebrate `Year of Rabbit`

China virtually shut down for a week to welcome the `Year of Rabbit` under its zodiac calendar.

Updated: Feb 02, 2011, 17:00 PM IST

Beijing: China virtually shut down on Wednesday
for a week with the entire country immersed in new year
celebrations to welcome the `Year of Rabbit` under the Chinese
zodiac calendar.

The year of Rabbit formally begins tomorrow but the
week-long celebrations also known as Spring Festival started
today, bidding goodbye to the `Year of Tiger`.

Chinese people, very superstitious despite six decades
of Communist rule, traditionally believe in the 12-year cycle
of the Chinese zodiac.

Each year of the 12-year cycle is named after an
animal. Each animal has a different personality and different
characteristics that are believed to be the traits of a person
born in that year, and which determine their success and

A person`s fate is determined at birth, so their
zodiac year is considered their year of fate.

Except the emergency services, all the government and
private sector offices have been closed for a week throughout
the country.

The festival every year pushes almost all the
transport systems in the country to the limits with more than
half of the 1.3 billion population moving from one end of the
country to another to join their families.

Officials say that this year the rail, road and air
transport services together would handle 2.56 billion
passenger trips, nearly 12 per cent more than the last year.

This year China is experimenting with its high speed
rail network which had dramatically cut down travel timings.