Every year, China, along with countries around the world, ring in the Chinese New Year. This highly anticipated event is also known as the Spring Festival. In 2021, Chinese New Year begins on February 12th, which marks the Year of the Ox, ending the year of the Rat.
Many people are familiar with the western world’s New Year, which falls on January 1st. Because it coincides with the Gregorian calendar, it is the same date every year. The Chinese New Year coincides with the lunar calendar. On the lunar calendar, the first day of the month begins during the new moon. Because of this, the Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year. However, it does always fall between January 21 and February 21.
The traditional holiday period for the Spring Festival lasts 23 days. The public holiday is celebrated for 7 days. This means those in Mainland China who celebrate the Chinese New Year get 7 days off from work.
Another feature of the Chinese New Year is each year is always associated with an animal. The animals always go in a certain order and repeat every 12 years. These animals include:
According to the Buddhist religion, Buddha promised gifts to all the animals who would come to honor him. Only these 12 animals came. Some Buddhists also believe that when babies are born, they inherit characteristics from the animal of their birth year.
The origin of the Chinese New Year goes back to the Shang Dynasty from 1600 to 1046 BC. During this time, people held sacrificial ceremonies in honor of gods at the beginning of the year. The date of the Chinese New Year was established during the Han Dynasty from 202 BC to 220 AD. Through the years, different ways of celebrating the New Year evolved. In 1949, the Chinese New Year was renamed the Spring Festival.
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