For the Chinese this is the Year of the Pig. The Chinese zodiac follows a twelve year cycle following twelve animals - snake, rat, pig, dog, goat, bull, and another six animals. The zodiac is ranked in order of the animals, who came to pay their respects to Buddha when he was sitting under the tree.
Every twelve years, the cycle also starts with the animal current in that year. This year is a new, 12 year cycle beginning with the pig. It is not only the year of the Pig, it is the Year of the Golden Pig. According to Chinese Foklore, this is an event that occurs once in every 600 years and will ensure that a baby born on this year will experience a prosperous and wealthy life.
As in Britain, people in other parts of Europe create their own nativity scenes for Christmas. This also happens in the US where stores and hotels will have a small scene of Mary, baby Jesus, a couple of angels, a cow and lambs etc. Similarly the Chinese in Singapore make their own 'nativity' display to celebrate their festivities of the New Year, but with a difference! This year they have Walt Disney type plastic and rubber pig mannequins wearing proper clothes and shoes and standing on two feet offering prayers or welcoming guests. One wonders how they are going to handle the year of the snake or dog?
Despite these animal capers, the Chinese are very good at the almanac - their lunar and solar calendars are very accurate. The Chinese New Year started on Monday 30th. January 1995 because that is when the new moon was 'born'. In quite a ridicules contrast the Muslim scholars go out to sight the moon for Ramadan. If they don't 'see' the moon then the Ramadan is not cancelled but the moon is as assumed to be there anyway!