According to traditional Chinese beliefs, there is a special relationship between human beings and their zodiac animals, which is similar to Western beliefs about astrology and personal character.
Many people believe to some degree that the zodiac animal affects the disposition of those born in the corresponding year. In turn, the zodiac symbols have their own unique connotations, and are often endowed with personality attributes.
According to the Chinese zodiac, Horse people tend to be smart, outgoing and energetic. They usually think fast with good interpersonal communication skills. A prominent characteristic of people born in the Year of the Horse is that they are lovers of freedom and very independent.
Thus, the Year of the Horse usually sees a baby boom, and this year is no exception. "Both my parents and my parents-in-law are putting pressure on me right now. They hope I can have a baby this year," said Liu Liping, a 29-year-old woman who got married two years ago. "I want a Horse baby, too, because Horse babies have a good personality and enjoy better potential career success."
"In order to have a Horse baby, some of my friends started trying last year. A couple of them have already succeeded. They are expecting their babies in a few months," said Liu, smiling. "I hope I can succeed too."
"If we miss the Year of the Horse, the next year will be the Year of the Sheep. Many say people born in the Year of the Sheep have less luck in their lives and careers. So we need to hurry up," said Liu. "I know there are no scientific grounds for these beliefs, but we want to wish all the best to our baby."
Indeed, the Year of the Horse will usher in a second baby boom that comes following the Year of the Dragon only two years ago. As a totemic animal which stands for power and wealth, the dragon has been loved by the Chinese people since ancient times. The Year of the Dragon was favored by many couples planning to have a baby at the time. Now the Year of the Horse is bringing about the same situation.
Some couples even turn to doctors in order to have a Horse baby. For instance, recently, more couples are looking for help in the Reproductive Medicine Center of Shanxi Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital and Shanxi Children's Hospital.
They wish to have a Horse baby through artificial intervention, such as "test tube" babies, according to Wu Xueqing, director of the reproductive center. Founded in November, 2004, the center was the first in Shanxi Province to qualify for using embryo pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and assisted reproductive technology.
"From a medical viewpoint, I suggest that couples choose to have babies naturally at the proper time and under the best physical conditions. After all, the most important thing is that the baby is healthy," said Wu.
Actually, Shanxi is not the only province to experience a baby boom. The boom experienced all over China has also brought a surge in the child care and housekeeping service market. According to a manager of a housekeeping service company in Taiyuan, capital city of Shanxi, although the year 2014 has just started, most of the company's maternity nannies have already been booked with their average salary rising to 5,800 yuan ($959) a month.
In fact, the salary of maternity nannies is even higher in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where demand for the service is high. Their job is to provide professional care for new-born babies and the mother. In Beijing, the salary can be over 10,000 yuan ($1,654) a month.