by Xinhua writer Yuan Quan
BEIJING wholesale nike air max womens shoes , Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese obstetricians always expect a lighter workload during the Year of Sheep, which began on Feb. 19 this lunar year.
"Not many people want to give birth in the Year of Sheep," said Duan Tao, director of the Shanghai First Maternity and Infant Hospital.
He has already seen a fall in deliveries. "In January, 2,330 women gave birth at my hospital, about 200 fewer than in December, and the number is still dropping."
The last two months of 2014 were strikingly different wholesale nike air max mens shoes , he said. More than 2,600 children were born each month, which means about 80 women gave birth each day on average, and the busiest day saw 140 babies born.
Obstetrician Su Xiaoman, who has worked for three decades at the Taiyuan Maternity and Infant Hospital in Shanxi Province, said a similar "year-end baby boom" happened 12 years ago. She was not surprised when some expectant mothers request C-sections before the Year of Sheep, which is traditionally viewed as inauspicious.
Su recalled a case many years ago, when a woman in her 30s was asked to abort her pregnancy by her mother-in-law wholesale nike air max online , who thought a baby born in the Year of Sheep would suffer misfortune. The abortion left her sterile for three years, she chose to divorce.
Such superstition also affects marriages. Some parents are disapproving if they learn their son's girlfriend was born in the Year of Sheep, believing a "sheep girl" is easily widowed.
In ancient China, marriages were arranged by parents. The custom has largely died out, but most young Chinese still feel obliged to respect their families' opinions. Some lie to their prospective in-laws about their year of birth.
Few people can explain why the Year of Sheep is considered an unlucky birth year. One common story is that the sheep is a timid animal, very weak and vulnerable to bullying. Another is that critics of the Empress Dowager Cixi and her traitorous minister Yuan Shikai in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) insisted their zodiac signs were sheep and a danger to the country.
The lunar calendar has a 12-year cycle, with each year assigned an animal symbol: rat, ox wholesale nike air max black friday , tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster wholesale nike air max free shipping , dog and pig.
Baby booms often come in the Year of Dragon, as Chinese believe they are descendants of the dragon. The horse, in Chinese culture, symbolizes success, resulting in another baby boom.
Folklorists say the sheep used to represent good luck before the Qing Dynasty. Many Chinese idioms comprising the character "yang," referring to sheep, imply auspicious omens. "Three sheep bring bliss" is a typical example.
The eighth zodiac animal is no fragile lamb, argued Zhang Congjun wholesale nike air max china , a historian in Shandong Province. The sheep played a very important role in both the farming and nomadic civilizations. "Three thousand years ago, ancient people would engrave events on sheep bones."
In 2012, a researcher on the role of sheep in Chinese culture claimed the earliest people on the land actually worshipped sheep.
REVERSAL OF FORTUNES
Better-educated young Chinese are less inclined to superstition today. Zhang Xingyue, 28, is four months pregnant and her baby will be born in this Year of Sheep. Unlike earlier generations, she saw this as a blessing: "Fewer people born this year means more opportunities in schooling and employment in the future."
It sounds reasonable. Official data showed that 200,000 children in Beijing entered primary schools in 2014, double the number of 2009. As Chinese children usually start school at age six wholesale nike air max cheap , most of the 2009 intake were born in 2003, a Year of Sheep.
Lyu Fangfang was born in 1990, a Year of Horse, but has struggled to find success.
She took gaokao, the national college entrance exam, in 2008, along with a record 10.5 million other students. The pressure increased after her graduation. She delivered her resume to 40 companies over three months, looking for an ideal job wholesale nike air max shoes , before eventually lowering her sights and accepting a position in a bank.
Nevertheless, demographers say the influence of the zodiac animals on birthrates is diminishing. Data from the last 36 years showed sheep years were not the lowest.
"The birthrate of this Year of Sheep may be higher than that of the Year of Horse," said Prof. Yuan Xin of the Institute of Population and Development at the Tianjin-based Nankai University.
Last year, 16.87 million babies were born in China. This year, Yuan forecast, the number could reach 17 million due to more provinces allowing couples to have a second child if either parent is an only child.
More than 1.069 million couples have applied to have a second child since the one-child policy was relaxed last year.
There might be a large flock of sheep this year, Yuan said.
Liu Ting, in a ward at a plastic surgery hospital in Guangzhou wholesale nike air max womens , East China's Guangdong province, April 7. [PhotoCFP] Liu Ting made herself up and changed her clothes before agreeing to an interview in Guangzhou, East China's Guangdong province, April 7. [PhotoCFP] Liu Ting takes care of her mother, July 31, 2014. Although determined to change gender, her filial piety to her mother would never change, she said. [PhotoCFP] File photo shows Liu Ting takes care of her mother. Although determined to change gender wholesale nike air max mens , her filial piety to her mother would never change, she said. File photo shows Liu Ting takes care of her mother. Although determined to change gender, her filial piety to her mother would never change, she said. Liu Ting after the surgery. Artistic photo of Liu Ting after the surgery. Artistic photo of Liu Ting after the surgery. Artistic photo of"
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