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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

Brian Williams became the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News on December 2, 2004. Read his full biography.

YEAR OF THE GOLDEN PIG BABY BOOM

Editor's note: NBC's Ian Williams will report from Beijing on the Sunday edition of NBC Nightly News.

BEIJING -- Compared with their usual bustle, the streets here are largely deserted. The city is quiet, except for the occasional explosive thud, a whoosh of a rocket, or series of small bangs.

No, this isn't a blog from war-torn Baghdad, but from Beijing on Chinese New Year's Eve. People have left in droves to celebrate New Year with their families elsewhere in the country, and those who remain are priming their fireworks, ready to see in the Year of the Pig, which begins on Sunday.

Nationwide, China's railways are expecting to carry more than 155m people over the New Year period - a record.

The most crowded places in the capital appear to be hospital maternity wards, which are bracing themselves for an expected baby boom, an onslaught of pregnant women preparing to give birth in the Year of the Pig. Those born in the pig year are said to be easy-going, loyal and lucky. What's more, this is supposedly the year of the Golden Pig, which comes around only once every 60 years, and which Chinese astrologers say is twice blessed, giving an even better chance of wealth, happiness and longevity.

In the maternity ward of Beijing's China-Japan Friendship Hospital, one of the city's biggest, Cui Xiaohuai surveys beds lining the corridors outside overcrowded wards. She is chief nurse in the obstetric department, and says that over the next year they expect to deliver double their unusual 200 babies a month. She says the hospital is adding more temporary beds and staff to cope.

"We are already overwhelmed," she says. "Everybody wants a baby born the Year of the Pig."

Although many people now find ways of sidestepping the rules, China still has a one-child policy, and many of those in Cui Xiaohuai's ward were determined their only child be born in what they regard as a lucky year.

"My husband and I planned for it," says Chen Xing, one heavily pregnant mother-to-be, who nevertheless appeared to be cutting it a bit fine.

There was a boom in weddings during the Year of the Dog, which precedes the Pig. Others in Mrs. Chen's ward didn't quite get their timing right, and the hospital's double-decker trolleys were already laden with swaddled babies, hours ahead of the official start of the year.

Across the city there are just 3,800 maternity ward beds and only 3,000 doctors and nurses available to work in them. Beijing's health authorities claim they do have the resources to cope, but last week advised expectant women to steer clear of the city's top hospitals over the coming months.

The scene will be repeated nationwide, with hundreds of thousands of couples targeting 2007 as the year to have their baby. Chinese newspapers have reported that delivery rooms in Shanghai are fully booked until well into March.

Under the Chinese zodiac, there are 12 rotating animal signs - a person can be a rat, ox, tiger,  dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, rabbit, dog or pig. Each is said to have different characteristics. In addition there are five rotating elements - gold, water, wood, fire and earth, of which gold is the most coveted.

At least that's the theory. Some experts quoted in local newspapers this week are questioning whether this year really is a golden year, though with or without the gold, pigs are considered lucky. That said, the population spike that will come this year might undermine some of that expected luck, since it will create more competition for school places and ultimately jobs for this year's boomers in the years ahead.

That's what happening to those born in 2000, the last Year of the Dragon, another auspicious sign. There was a spike in births that year too, and many young dragons are struggling to find places in schools.

Not that any of that will dim the happiness of the mothers-to-be at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital. If anything, there has been a surge in belief in the zodiac and all other manner of fortune telling, once dismissed by Mao Tse-Tung as dangerous superstitions.

It's worth noting that the last Year of the Golden Pig was 1947, two years before Mao took power, and a year that also saw the birth of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elton John and Hillary Clinton. Make what you will of that!

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COMMENTS

I do appreciate all the info people are sending about the Chinese New Year and all. Regardless if it is or not a golden year. We are having a GOLDEN CHILD this year which will have the name of VIOLET ERIKA ROSE and that along is a blessing to our family, because this child is coming into a very special couple's home and family lfe. She will be our GOLDEN CHILD.....TIA ARCY

I wondering how many people who were born on the previous pig years and/or 60 yrs ago had a good/lucky life? And how many babies who was/is/will be borned this year will have "a golden" life?

Firstly, I, as a Chinese boy, appreciate people pay their attention to our Chinese new year, and I’ve never imaged so many people will care the “pig”
However, I, to tell you the truth, there are lots of couples deciding to give birth in this year, because it is a common agreement that pig in china is a symbol of blessedness and moderate standard life, and also pig is so cute that many people in china raise it as a pet which is a special pig with a appealing scent.
As to the difference of “fire pig” or “golden pig”, I don’t know about it. In china more people say “it is a golden year”. Many people, including me, don’t know “fire pig” until I search it in the google. Then, it comes to my mind that there is a theory about Gold, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth in China.
It a great celebration in china when it comes to these days. It is also a good chance for people to reunion and sit around for a dinner. Kids will be happy to get money for their elder generations, which may be not a large sum, but it is a blessing. It is fun for every kid
Another worth-mentioned thing is blazing fireworks at midnight. More fireworks mean more blessedness in the coming year.
I wish I would get more progress.
I’d like to answer any question from you about China if I know
Your questions are welcome

I was confused about this being a Fire Pig year also- until I read an article by Doreen G. Yu on the internet. According to this article, the Fire Pig became known as the Golden Pig in 627 AD in China. The gold ingot had sucessfully become the monetary exchange at about the same time as the Fire Pig year. "It so happened that that was a Fire Pig year, and the character for pig (zhu) is a homonym for ingot. Folk tradition thus turned the jin zhu (gold ingot) year into the jin zhu (golden pig) year, and because it was a most auspicious year in the Tang Dunasty, tradition equated the Fire Pig year with the Golden Pig year."

This is a "fire" pig year and not a golden pig year. Some Chinese refer it as 'golden pig' to bring luck but it doesn't mean it is really a golden pig year in Chinese calendar. You got it right that golden pig year only comes once every 60 year, but it is not this year.

I heard on your nightly 6 o'clock news today that this year is a golden pig year. This is a year of the Pig, but not the goldern pig as your news mentioned. Please check this site for more information.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_(zodiac)

This year is the year of the Fire Pig. The Chinese may have used Gold color to present the color of Fire. Thus, people think that it is a golden pig year. Chinese zodiac has 12-animal cycle combined with 5 elements (consiting of Metal (Gold), Water, Wood, Fire, Earth) to make a full cycle of 60 years. The past golden pig years were 1912, 1972, and the next one is 2032. NOT 2007.

I just like to share a more accurate information with your news team.

Happy Chinese New Year, Kung Hee Fat Choy!
Thanks,
Kim

p.s. I've also sent a similar message via the contact link on NBC website.

Thanks for a nice story about China and their CNY celebration. As soon-to-be adoptive parents of a Chinese child, we were happy to finally see a positive story about China on the national news. We're thinking that our daughter will be born this Spring - under the lucky sign - and we can hardly wait for our little piglet referral in early 2008! Happy New Year!

Fred, Actually, I have many, many friends who have adopted Chinese girls. They are wonderful children who are very lucky to have gotten out of their situation. I have recently read that in 20 years, India will be in a similar situation. Not enough women to have the children. This isn't negative - it's simply realistic.

xin nian kuai le!

Seems too many people that reply to these blogs are negative nancy types. So, why not go volunteer to run a school for female chinese orphans or something positive instead of bitching on a blog about it?

enjoy the new year, and i wish all the little piglets luck! (i am a 'pig' as well. :) )

In China, this is the year to get pregnant expecting good luck - since women are disposable in Chinese society, who will give birth to these males? What will become of the females born this year?

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We are already overwhelmed, she says. Everybody wants a baby born the Year of the Pig. Is there anyone from China, that can comment on this? Is this for real? The year of the pig? The scene will be repeated nationwide, with hundreds of thousands of couples targeting 2007 as the year to have their baby. Chinese newspapers have reported th...

Posted on Mar 5, 2007 11:34:22 AM at: buzzflash.net