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Hong Kong ushers in the year of the horse, hoping for vigorous growth in auspicious time

  • 2328dfd383f493044a0f6a706700575d.jpg

    In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 photo, a horse swims as part of a routine exercise in a barn at Hong Kong's Jockey Club. Chinese communities around the world were welcoming the arrival of the year of the horse on Friday, Jan. 31 with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is mark with particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects 7.93 million visitors, more than territory’s permanent population of 7.1 million. The year is considered especially significant for Hong Kong’s vibrant horse racing scene which boasts two world-class tracks and legions of enthusiastic fans. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

  • 11dccc4383f293044a0f6a70670071f4.jpg

    In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 photo, a horse decoration for the Chinese Lunar New Year is displayed on the wall of a building in Hong Kong. Chinese communities around the world were welcoming the arrival of the year of the horse on Friday, Jan. 31 with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is mark with particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects 7.93 million visitors, more than territory’s permanent population of 7.1 million. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

  • e8b4ddf583f293044a0f6a706700c5c0.jpg

    In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 photo, a horse takes a bath after swimming in a barn at Hong Kong's Jockey Club. Chinese communities around the world were welcoming the arrival of the year of the horse on Friday, Jan. 31 with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is mark with particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects 7.93 million visitors, more than territory’s permanent population of 7.1 million. The year is considered especially significant for Hong Kong’s vibrant horse racing scene which boasts two world-class tracks and legions of enthusiastic fans. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

  • 580ae62e83ec92044a0f6a706700df17.jpg

    In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 photo, Chinese New Year decorations with a golden horse are displayed at a shopping mall in Hong Kong. Chinese communities around the world were welcoming the arrival of the year of the horse on Friday, Jan. 31 with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is mark with particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects 7.93 million visitors, more than territory’s permanent population of 7.1 million. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

  • 602fd4f383f193044a0f6a70670085cc.jpg

    In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 photo, a horse decoration for the Chinese Lunar New Year is displayed at a local bank in Hong Kong. Chinese communities around the world were welcoming the arrival of the year of the horse on Friday, Jan. 31 with equine-themed decorations and celebrations. The annual Lunar New Year holiday is mark with particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects 7.93 million visitors, more than territory’s permanent population of 7.1 million. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu) (The Associated Press)

Chinese communities around the world were ushering in the year of the horse starting Friday with equine-themed decorations and celebrations.

The annual Lunar New Year holiday is marked with a particular verve in Hong Kong, the semi-autonomous Chinese financial center that expects nearly 8 million visitors from Jan. 29 to Feb. 6 — more than the local population of 7.1 million. Most of those travelers will be mainland Chinese, who have been flooding into Hong Kong in increasing numbers in recent years thanks to rising incomes and a strengthening yuan.

Like all animals in the Chinese zodiac, the horse sign comes imbued with certain characteristics, such as vitality, loyalty, steadfastness and a sense of adventure. The year of the horse is generally considered an auspicious time, and business-savvy residents of Hong Kong are hoping for vigorous growth.

The year is considered especially significant for Hong Kong's vibrant horse racing scene, which boasts two world-class tracks and legions of enthusiastic fans.