Even though the Chinese Lunar New Year is still a month away, people are already going ape for the Year of the Monkey.
The Chinese lunar calendar assigns an animal symbol to each year in a 12-year cycle. According to the zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey.
On Wednesday night, Tian Meng, 62, anxiously stayed up until midnight in order to make online reservation of a set of commemorative coins issued by the central bank for the Year of the Monkey.
"I usually go to sleep very early at night, but I want to get the coins," explained the retiree from Hefei City, east China's Anhui Province.
The People's Bank of China issues the coins on Jan. 16 and began taking pre-orders at midnight on Thursday. By Thursday morning, all the coins were reserved.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, falls on Feb. 8 this year, ending the Year of the Sheep. The monkey comes ninth in the 12-animal rotation, following the sheep and preceding the rooster. Others in the zodiac include rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, dog and pig.
According to the zodiac, people born during the Year of the Monkey are thought to be smart, lively and playful.
Chinese stores, offices, homes and cars will be decorated with zodiac-themed trinkets weeks before the lunar new year, offering a boom for businesses across the country.
In Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, the world's largest wholesale market for small consumer goods has entered the high season. At the Festival Commodities Market, wholesale dealers can be seen hawking monkey-themed paintings, scrolls with traditional couplets, toys and lucky charms.
"Besides Chinese customers, there are also many foreign clients," said Liu Qing, a wholesale dealer purchasing products at the market.
The scene is similar in the nearby city of Jinhua, where businesses are busy introducing their latest monkey products to customers.
"This year's major products are lucky paper with the Chinese character 'Fu' (happiness) and couplets on scrolls," a businesswoman surnamed Lu said as she showed the products to a customer in Jinhua's Dongyang Mall. "Gold ingots with monkey images are also very popular."
Even foreign businesses are cashing in on the fervor, adding primates to imported watches, chocolates and charm bracelets found on e-commerce site Taobao.com
Meanwhile, a trailer for the film "Monkey King 2" starring Hong Kong actor Louis Koo has just been released. The sequel to one of China's most successful domestic films will be released on the first day of Spring Festival, Feb. 8.
Enthusiasm for monkey products shows the Chinese people's excitement for the country's biggest holiday, which is generally celebrated with family reunions and is a time of happiness, courage and hope, said Wang Kaiyu, a researcher at the Anhui Academy of Social Sciences.
Zhou Hua, a kindergarten teacher from Hefei, has just finished embroidering a monkey for her daughter.
"My daughter was born in the Year of the Monkey, and this is my gift for her for the lunar year," Zhou said. "I hope she will be as happy and lively as a monkey."