What is the Chinese New Year?

We’ve all heard of Chinese New Year but do you know why they celebrate at a different time to the rest of the world? It all started back in the ancient times.

The Chinese months are followed by the lunar calendar – this means each month will begin with the darkest day and end with the brightest. The Chinese New Year’s will fall at a time during January or February, but varies from year to year (but it is usually within the period of 21st January to 20th February).

Legend has it that Buddha requested all the animals meet him on Chinese New Year and twelve came, thus Buddha named a year after each one. He also stated that people who were born in the year of that animal would have some of the animal’s traits and personality.

The Chinese lunar calendar is linked with the Chinese zodiac, and the 12 animal signs stated by Buddha are rat, ox, snake, tiger, rabbit, dragon, rooster, dog, horse, goat, monkey and pig.

It is known that the Chinese year 4713 will begin on 19th February 2015 and it is the year of the goat.

In China, people may take weeks off for holidays to prepare for and celebrate the New Year celebrations. One of the main events is the New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner, when families of several generations sit at round tables and enjoy food and time together.

Some of the most popular foods eaten at these celebrations is fish and Chinese dumplings, both thought to bring wealth once eaten.

Also, celebratory parades are held with firecrackers, fireworks, lanterns, dragon dances and lots of red decorations lining the streets, which the Chinese believe to be a very lucky colour.