In China , the Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday! Children get a whole month off from school. In the United States , kids may not be that lucky, but the holiday itself is getting more popular. Here are some interesting facts about the Chinese New Year to help you get to know it better.
Fact 1: It’s a different date each year
Because the Chinese New Year originated in 2600 B.C, when people followed the lunar calendar, its exact date varies each time. The Chinese New Year in 2011 will be on February 3rd.
One thing that is consistent is the weather. You can guarantee it will be cold! So bundle up!
Fact 2: You must say good-bye to the past year and do so in accordance
Clean your house, throw away crap, get new clothes, and paint the doors! The Chinese New Year is all about forgetting the past and welcoming new beginnings – good news for anyone who is anal about spring cleaning!
Fact 3: Each year is named after an animal and then the cycle restarts
The Chinese New Year calendar has 12 years in a cycle. Each cycle is named after an animal, and here is their order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
When the cycle is over, on the year of the pig, the year of the rat starts.
On the next Chinese New Year, in 2011, it will be the year of the rabbit.
Fact 4: The Chinese New Year lasts up to 15 days
Like I said, this is the most celebrated holiday and apparently it takes 15 days of festivities. No wonder kids take a whole month off! Half of their vacation is dedicated to the New Year, not that they are complaining.
Fact 5: Street fairs for lion and dragon dances
The streets and alleys are filled with friends, neighbors and families to attend fairs with traditional eats like candied crabapples on a stick.
Also the lion and dragon dancers dress up as these animals and perform a fun and acrobatic dance. They must be entertaining because the crowd is usually roaring in excitement during the show.
Fact 6: Children get red envelopes
Unlike Christmas, when children excitedly open box after box of neatly-wrapped presents, children in China receive red envelopes full of paper money from adults. For luck, the amount they receive is usually an even number, and nothing with a division of 4, because “4” means “death” in Chinese.
Fact 7: Every New Year’s Eve, China Central TV (CCTV) holds a televised celebration
Since the 80’s, CCTV has been broadcasting an evening-long program that includes Chinese opera bits, traditional dances, comedy and other short acts. It’s a huge variety show that’s much anticipated and watched by the entire country.
Fact 8: Lots of Firecrackers!
When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, everyone goes outside to shoot firecrackers. The entire neighborhood is lit up.
Traditionally, firecrackers are used to fend off evil spirits. But to the kids who like to play with them, they are just fun and festive!
Fact 9: On the 15th and the final day of New Year’s celebration, Lantern Day is observed
Lanterns, lanterns everywhere! On the final day of the Chinese New Year celebration, everyone carries ornate paper lanterns in intricate designs and walk the streets to light way for the New Year.
Fact 10: Everyone becomes a year older on Chinese New Year
Not sure what the logic is, but everybody is a year older on the Chinese New Year. It’s like a national birthday. Traditionally, birthdays are just not important to the Chinese.
Though the Chinese New Year is full of unique characteristics, but just like any holiday in other countries, it’s a time for family and friends to celebrate. It’s festive and a whole lot of fun, especially for the little ones. With so many things to do, so much food to eat and all that time off, how could anyone not enjoy the Chinese New Year?