Any local fortune-teller will confirm that the Year of the Golden Pig is auspicious. But Canadia Bank Chairman Pung Khieng Se is trying to tilt his company’s odds: he plans to award $1,000 to any of his 1,800 employees who bears a child during the new Chinese calendar year, which began Sunday.
“It’s a very special year for the country, as it will bring lots of investors and stability,” he said, adding that babies born during the Year of the Golden Pig are believed to increase wealth and help businesses grow. “It’ll be 2067 before it comes again,” he said.
According to Chinese tradition, years of the pig—which happen every 12 years—are auspicious. But years of the golden pig, which only occur every 60 years, are supposed to be even greater luck-bearers.
For some Cambodians, it may seem the ideal time to usher in a new addition to the family.
“People born this year are supposed to be gentle, honest, kind and hard-working,” said Taing Kim Ly, a 60-year-old Cambodian woman of Chinese descent who runs a tailor shop in the capital. This is why one of her relatives has chosen to bear a baby this year, she said.
It remains to be seen whether Cambodia will experience the type of baby boom being predicted in China, where officials are anticipating an increase in birth rates, according to news reports.
But Sunday, at least one of Phnom Penh’s maternity wards had received a new mother hoping for an auspicious birth.
As dawn broke Sunday, a 3.85-kg baby boy was born to a Khmer-Chinese couple at Kampoul Pich Maternity on Street 306, according to the clinic’s director, Dr Sieng Tharin.
“His family hopes the baby will bring good luck to them,” said Sieng Tharin, who delivered the child at 6:30 am.
Aside from the intermittent performances by dancers in dragon suits, the city streets were relatively tranquil Sunday as shops shuttered their doors and residents relaxed at home or left town for the day.
But a small crowd still made its way to the top of Wat Phnom, where worshippers came to pay their respects, many dressed in bright red clothes.
“I’m hoping to get a promotion at work this year, and that my own business will grow,” said a 37-year-old court official at Wat Phnom. The official, who declined to be named, added that he has a separate side business to his legal work.
The official’s 58-year-old mother, seated by his side, affirmed that her son, also born in a pig year, had fulfilled all the expectations of his birth animal: gentle, cooperative and devoted to his parents. She also declined to be named.
At Sisowath Quay, fortune-teller Chea Sam Neang confirmed that the year would be optimal for child-bearing—that is, unless the mother also happened to have been born in a year of the pig.
“When you have the same signs up against each other, it can be dangerous,” the 55-year-old said, though she added that generally speaking, “It’s a lucky year for pigs.”