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Chinese New Year - 31 January 2014

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Chinese New YearChinese New Year, also known as the spring festival, is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The spring festival celebrates the start of new life and the season of ploughing and sowing.

New Year festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. The first week is celebrated with visits to friends and family following special traditions designed to bring good luck. The second week ends with the Lantern festival on the evening of the 15th day of the lunar month.

In depth

Chinese New Year is the oldest Chinese festival and has many traditions. Before the start of the festivities, Chinese people spring clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, dustpan and brushes are put away so that good luck can not be swept away. Houses are decorated with paper scrolls with good luck phrases such as 'Happiness' and 'Wealth'.

On New Year's Eve, families gather together and have a large, traditional meal. There are different types of food depending on which region of China people come from. in the north, people eat djiaozi - a steamed dumpling and in the south nian gao - a sticky, sweet rice pudding.

People will stay up until midnight setting off fireworks to frighten away evil spirits. Red symbolises fire which will scare away evil spirits, so people dress head to foot in new red clothing.

On New Year's Day children will wake up to find a red envelope filled with money and sweets under their pillows left by their parents and grandparents.

Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. The lanterns are often hand painted with scenes from history or legend. People hang glowing lanterns at the windows of their houses and carry lanterns under the light of the full moon. A dragon dance often takes places with a dragon made of paper, silk and bamboo held aloft by young men dancing and guiding it around to collect money.

In some countries, especially England, the festivities are shortened, so that the lantern festival takes place on Chinese New Year's day and you can see parades with dragon dancing and brightly painted lanterns.

  • Rat - February 19, 1996 | February 7, 2008
  • Ox - February 7, 1997 | January 26, 2009
  • Tiger - January 28, 1998 | February 14, 2010
  • Rabbit - February 16, 1999 | February 3, 2011
  • Dragon - February 5, 2000 | January 23, 2012
  • Snake - January 24, 2001 | February 10, 2013
  • Horse - February 12, 2002 | January 31, 2014
  • Goat - February 1, 2003 | February 19, 2015
  • Monkey - January 22, 2004 | February 8, 2016
  • Rooster - February 9, 2005 | January 28, 2017
  • Dog - January 29, 2006 | February 16, 2018
  • Pig - February 18, 2007 | February 5, 2019

Gung hei fat choi! Happy New Year!

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Chinese New Year Q&A

Incense

Why does the date of the Chinese New Year change each year?

The first day of Chinese New Year is always between January 21st and February 21st, coinciding with the first new moon - the darkest day - between these two dates.

Do the Chinese follow the same calendar?

No. The Chinese follow their own calendar, based on the moon. The Chinese New Year 4709 begins February 03, 2011.

What is the Chinese Zodiac?

The Chinese Zodiac has 12 animal signs. Each year is a different animal. People take on the charateristics of the animal of the year they were born in.

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