Chinese New Year

1 February 2014

…. takes place this year on Friday January 31. Celebrations usually begin on Chinese New Year’s Eve, signalling the end of the Year of the Snake. The lunar calendar is based upon the cycles of the moon and has 12 animals, one to represent each year of the lunisolar cycle.

The forthcoming year is the Year of the Horse, an animal which is said to bring prosperity and wealth. At Chinese New Year, people traditionally wear red clothes and give children ‘lucky money’ contained in red envelopes. The colour red symbolises fire to drive away bad luck.

To mark the holiday, families typically reunite and gather at each other’s homes to celebrate and eat together. It is also tradition for households to thoroughly cleanse the house to sweep away ill fortune and make way for good luck, to decorate windows and doors and to light firecrackers.

Festivities often continue until the Lantern Festival, held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Red paper lanterns are hung across houses and in streets. The highlight of this festival is often considered to be the dragon dance. The dragon is typically made of silk, paper and bamboo and is held aloft as people take it through the streets.

The holiday is centuries old and is celebrated across mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and other Asian countries as well as other countries across the world.

Those born in the Year of the Horse are believed to be cheerful, skilful with money, perceptive and witty. Famous people born in this year include actress Halle Berry, Rembrandt and singer Aretha Franklin.

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