Chinese New Year
New Year festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. The first week is celebrated with visits to friends and family following special traditions designed to bring good luck. The second week ends with the Lantern festival on the evening of the 15th day of the lunar month.
Chinese New Year is the oldest Chinese festival and has many traditions. Before the start of the festivities, Chinese people spring clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, dustpan and brushes are put away so that good luck can not be swept away. Houses are decorated with paper scrolls with good luck phrases such as 'Happiness' and 'Wealth'.
On New Year's Eve, families gather together and have a large, traditional meal. There are different types of food depending on which region of China people come from. in the north, people eat djiaozi - a steamed dumpling and in the south nian gao - a sticky, sweet rice pudding.
People will stay up until midnight setting off fireworks to frighten away evil spirits. Red symbolises fire which will scare away evil spirits, so people dress head to foot in new red clothing.
On New Year's Day children will wake up to find a red envelope filled with money and sweets under their pillows left by their parents and grandparents.
Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. The lanterns are often hand painted with scenes from history or legend. People hang glowing lanterns at the windows of their houses and carry lanterns under the light of the full moon. A dragon dance often takes places with a dragon made of paper, silk and bamboo held aloft by young men dancing and guiding it around to collect money.
In some countries, especially England, the festivities are shortened, so that the lantern festival takes place on Chinese New Year's day and you can see parades with dragon dancing and brightly painted lanterns.
Rat - February 19, 1996 | February 7, 2008
Ox - February 7, 1997 | January 26, 2009
Tiger - January 28, 1998 | February 14, 2010
Rabbit - February 16, 1999 | February 3, 2011
Dragon - February 5, 2000 | January 23, 2012
Snake - January 24, 2001 | February 10, 2013
Horse - February 12, 2002 | January 31, 2014
Goat - February 1, 2003 | February 19, 2015
Monkey - January 22, 2004 | February 8, 2016
Rooster - February 9, 2005 | January 28, 2017
Dog - January 29, 2006 | February 16, 2018
Pig - February 18, 2007 | February 5, 2019
Gung hei fat choi! Happy New Year!