Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year began on 10 February 2013. This marked the start of the current Year of the Snake, 4711 on the Chinese Calendar. The date of the next Chinese New Year will be 31 January 2014 when it will be the Year of the Horse. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival.
Chinese New Year is the main Chinese festival of the year and it is not a religious event. We explain some of the traditions and stories linked to this celebration.
As the Chinese use the Lunar calendar for their festivals the date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year. The date corresponds to the new moon (black moon) in either late January or February. Traditionally celebrations last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon. In China the public holiday lasts for three days and this is the biggest celebration of the year.
The Chinese calendar is different from that used in the United Kingdom. It is made up of a cycle of twelve years, each of them being named after an animal. This is very like our signs of the zodiac. Some people believe that people born in a particular year such as the year of the Dog will have some of the characteristics of that animal.
To find out which animals make up the Chinese zodiac and which one you are supposed to be like, click here and put in your birthday.
There are several legends about how animal names were chosen for the years. Read one of the stories here.
Over a sixth of the people in the world celebrate Chinese New Year. Customs vary in different parts of the world, but everywhere the main idea is the same. It is a time to remember the family and wish everyone peace and prosperity in the coming year. Find out more about the customs.