Chinese New Year falls on Sunday February 10 this year. It’s the most important traditional Chinese holiday. In China, it is also known as the ‘Spring Festival’.
The date of Chinese New Year changes every year as it is based on the lunar calendar. The dates usually range between late January and late February.
While the western calendar is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, the lunar calendar that China and most Asian countries uses is based on the moon’s orbit around the earth. Chinese New Year always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice.
Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run for 15 days: from Chinese New Year’s Day, the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar to the 15th day of the first month, also called the Lantern Festival.
This year is the Year of the Snake, also called Junior Dragon by Chinese people.
The Chinese Zodiac is a rotating cycle of 12 years, which consists of 12 signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, with each year represented by an animal.
Chinese New Year is celebrated by eating special New Year food, such as nian gao or sweet sticky rice cake and savory dumplings – which are round and symbolize never-ending wealth. People will travel home from far away to have a family reunion. The biggest feast is on Chinese New Year’s Eve where pork, fish, chicken, duck and dumplings will be consumed. People set off fireworks, visit friends and relatives, give out lucky money, deliver good wishes and hang lanterns.People born in the Year of Snake are believed to be intelligent, cute, charming, aware, elegant, mysterious, cunning, and passionate.
The origin of the Chinese New Year Festival is thousands of years old and varies from teller to teller, but all include a story of a terrible mythical monster called Nian, an extremely cruel and ferocious beast who preyed on villagers on New Year’s Eve. Nian (年) is also the Chinese word for “year.” To ward Nian away, villagers made loud noises with drums, set off fireworks, hang out red-paper couplets on the doors because Nian is said to fear the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises.