Chinese New Year
Celebrate a new year in the Chinese zodiac
In the United States, people celebrate New Year's at the beginning of a new calendar year, but in China, they celebrate the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. The Chinese New Year doesn't fall on the same day every year because the first day of Chinese New Year is the new moon that is closest to spring. That's why it is also referred to as the Spring Festival. Upon the full moon 15 days later, the Lantern Festival signifies the end of the Chinese New Year. The time span in which Chinese New Year can fall is between Jan 21st and Feb 21st.
The Lunar Calendar
The history of Chinese New Year is tied to the lunar calendar, which is organized around the phases of the moon. In general, the moon waxes at the beginning of the month until the full moon, which marks the middle of the month, and then wanes at the end of the month. A new moon marks a new month.
Unfortunately, this system doesn't always equal 365 days per year, so the Chinese add an extra month every few years to catch up.
In addition to using the lunar calendar, the Chinese also celebrate the new year according to the Chinese zodiac. The Chinese zodiac is a cycle of 12 years, each signified by a particular animal. Chinese New Year also marks the beginning of a new year Chinese zodiac-wise.
Chinese New Year Celebrations
The Chinese New Year would be comparable to Christmas in the U.S. Family and friends gather near and feast upon wonderfully prepared meals to welcome in the new year. The Chinese New Year celebration calls for specific foods that represent wealth and prosperity for the upcoming year. The children usually gather together and make crafts such as Chinese New Year cards and dragon masks to distribute or display, and everyone enjoys a festive time. Another important part of this celebration is the colors that are used for decorating. Specific colors are used because they are thought to draw harmony, good health, luck and wealth. Traditionally, a fireworks display is prominent at the end of the party.