Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year

The Lunar New Year (often called Chinese New Year in the U.S., though it’s celebrated in many Asian cultures) is the first day of a 15-day celebration, culminating in the Lantern Festival on the 15th night. A celebration of good luck and good fortune for the coming year, Lunar New Year is deeply entrenched in traditions the whole family can enjoy. Parades take place throughout Asia and around the U.S., and often feature dancing dragons (a symbol of goodness and strength).

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and is considered highly accurate. The calendar follows a 12-year cycle, with each year represented by one of 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig).

The actual date of the New Year changes annually, determined by the second New Moon following the winter solstice. (That’s where the name Lunar New Year comes from: it’s also frequently called the Spring Festival.) New Year ends, after 15 days, on a full moon.

So, what does one do to celebrate a Chinese-style New Year? Feasting plays a large part, as do many traditional customs, and of course, lighting lanterns.

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