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Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday for ethnic Chinese people all around the world. The Chinese calendar and dates are traditionally based on changes of the moon, not the sun. The New Year starts at the beginning of this lunar (moon) calendar, and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day.
The Chinese New Year is celebrated for fifteen days. On the holiday's eve, families come together to eat a meal in the evening. This meal is called the reunion dinner. No matter how far away they are, Chinese people will try to visit with their families at least this one time of the year. not only enjoying the meal, but also watching a New Year Eve's gala with family members. Married daughters also return to visit their parents.
Early new year
Chinese people visit their grandparents, parents, friends and relatives during the first few days of the New Year. The older and married people give the younger ones red paper packets called hongbao in Mandarin (Lai See in Cantonese). This packet has money inside it. It is believed to bring luck.
They also exchange mandarin oranges for good luck.
Late new year
The last day of the New Year celebration is called the Lantern Festival, or the Yuanxiao. On this day, families cook dumplings made of sticky rice. They eat them in a sweet soup. There are also many beautiful lanterns that decorate the streets in China and Chinatowns. Traditionally, on this day, adults can choose a partner. Long ago in China, this would have been one of the few days when women of rich families were allowed to go outside their houses with their maids.
|鼠 Rat||子 Zi||February 19, 1996||February 7, 2008||January 25, 2020|
|牛 Ox||丑 Chou||February 7, 1997||January 26, 2009||February 14, 2021|
|虎 Tiger||寅 Yin||January 28, 1998||February 14, 2010||February 25, 2022|
|兔 Rabbit||卯 Mao||February 16, 1999||February 3, 2011||January 27, 2023|
|龍 Dragon||辰 Chen||February 5, 2000||January 23, 2012||February 14, 2024|
|蛇 Snake||巳 Si||January 24, 2001||February 10, 2013||January 19, 2025|
|馬 Horse||午 Wu||February 12, 2002||January 31, 2014||February 21, 2026|
|羊 Goat||未 Wei||February 1, 2003||February 19, 2015||February 26, 2027|
|猴 Monkey||申 Shen||January 22, 2004||February 8, 2016||January 14, 2028|
|雞 Rooster||酉 You||February 9, 2005||January 28, 2017||February 2, 2029|
|狗 Dog||戌 Xu||January 29, 2006||February 16, 2018||February 17, 2030|
|豬 Pig||亥 Hai||February 18, 2007||February 5, 2019||January 20, 2031|
Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the new year that has a new moon. It ends on the Lantern Festival 14 days later. This occurs around the time of the full moon as each complete moon cycle is about 29.53 days long. In the Gregorian calendar used in other countries, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year. It is usually between January 21 and February 20. This means that the holiday usually starts on the second (sometimes the third) new moon after the winter solstice.
The dates for the Spring Festival from 1996 to 2019 (in the Gregorian calendar) are at the right. The list also includes the year's animal zodiac and its earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English translations. They are not Chinese translations of the animals. The calendar has a 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac and a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology. These elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are changed every two years and a yin and yang association changes every year. The elements are named: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, and so on. These two cycles create a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, 1936 was the year of the Yang Fire Rat. 60 years later, 1996 was the next year of the Yang Fire Rat.
Some people had problems with the difference between the Chinese birth-year and the Gregorian birth-year. Because the Chinese New Year starts in late January or early February, the Chinese year begins several weeks after it begins in the Gregorian calendar. If a person is born in early January, their Chinese birth-year is the last Gregorian year, not the current one. This causes problems because many people think of the years as the same. For example, 1989 was the year of the Snake. The year 1990 was the year of the Horse. It began on 26 January 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990 was actually born in the year of the Snake not the year of the Horse.