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Chinese New Year

The Chinese celebrate their ancient tradition, the Chinese New Year, at the beginning of the year by the Chinese lunar calendar.

At the beginning of the year the past year's symbol goes into limbo for 11 years before emerging for another one-year reign in the perpetual 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac.

Chinese lunar New Year falls on the first day of the first moon. This varies in relation to the Gregorian calendar named after Pope Gregory XIII, who decreed it in 1582 to replace the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 B.C.

The lunar calendar, which dates from 2698 B.C., thus predated the Julian calendar by 2652 years and the Gregorian calendar by 4280 years.

The Chinese New Year is the most colorful and important of China's fêtes. It is observed from the 16th of the 12th month until the 15th of the New Year. The Lunar New Year itself may occur as early as January 21 and as late as February 21.

On the 16th day of the last month, businesses close their accounts and thank the gods for a prosperous year. Even their customers join in by paying their debts. Everyone wants to start the New Year with a clean slate.

The New Year celebrations come to an end on the fifteenth day of the first moon, observed as the Lantern Festival. A feature of the festival is the eating of "yuan hsiao," a small dumpling made of rice flour and containing a sweet filling. The dumpling is round, symbolizing the full moon and complete family reunions.

Chinese New Year Symbols

The Year Of The Rat
Rats are: energetic, charming, honest and humorous. They can also be: greedy, petty and destructive.
The Year Of The Ox
Oxen are: patient, precise, leaders and strong. They can also be: stubborn, jealous and authoritarian.
The Year Of The Tiger
Tigers are: hugely generous, well-mannered, courageous, and passionate. They can also be: undisciplined, hasty and stubborn.
The Year Of The Hare
Hares are: discreet, social, gifted, forgiving and clever. They can also be: old-fashioned and aloof.
The Year Of The Dragon
Dragons are: shrewd, vital, lucky, generous, successful, and admirable. They can also be disquieting, willful and demanding.
The Year Of The Serpent
Serpents are: wise, cultivated, calm, decisive, and compassionate. They can also be possessive and extravagant.
The Year Of The Horse
Horses are: amiable, eloquent, frank, athletic, and hardworking. They can also be: selfish, impatient and rebellious.
The Year Of The Ram
Rams are: elegant, creative, peace-loving and sweet-natured. They can also be: pessimistic, dissatisfied and insecure.
The Year Of The Monkey
Monkeys are: witty, acutely intelligent, enthusiastic and passionate. They can also be: tricky, calculating and unfaithful.
The Year Of The Rooster
Roosters are: frank, vivacious, sincere, industrious and popular. They can also be: mistrustful and short-sighted.
The Year Of The Dog
Dogs are: courageous, noble, devoted, loyal, prosperous and intelligent. They can also be: pessimistic, critical and stubborn.
The Year Of The Boar
Boars are: loyal, sincere, impartial, peaceable, decisive and sensitive. They can also be: naive and willful.

Symbols and Calendar

Dog 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006
Boar 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007
Rat 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
Hare 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
Dragon 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
Serpent 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
Horse 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Ram 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
Monkey 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Rooster 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017