新年快乐！Xin nian kuai le! Happy Chinese New Year!
Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival (春节chunjie), celebrates the first fifteen days of the lunar calendar. Generally occurring in late January or early February, the New Year holiday begins with 除夕 chuxi (New Year’s Eve) and ends with the Lantern Festival. This year, Chinese New Year begins on February 8, 2016, and ends on February 22.
Celebrate the New Year with your family – Try this recipe for authentic, easy-to-make Chinese sesame noodles!
New Year Traditions
The New Year holiday celebrates family, reunion, a fresh start, and hopes of prosperity and good health for the New Year. Every year, over 2 billion Chinese people travel to visit their families for the New Year – the largest annual human migration in the world, called 春运 chunyun (spring travel) in Chinese. People decorate their homes with festive red lanterns, knots, and 春联 chunlian, poems written on red paper hung on either side of the door frame. The house must be swept clean, hair cut, and new clothes bought to make sure everything is fresh for the New Year.
On New Year’s Eve, families set off firecrackers to ring in the New Year and gather around the TV to watch celebrities, actors, and musicians perform on CCTV’s New Year Gala. The next day, everyone will enjoy a feast of special New Year foods together – dumplings, which look like ancient Chinese gold ingots; fish, as the word for fish (鱼yu) sounds like the word for prosperity (余yu); and noodles, representing longevity. Throughout the following week people will take the time to visit friends and family as well, handing out red envelopes full of money (红包hongbao) to children. On the 15th day, the New Year holiday period will conclude with the Lantern Festival.
2016: Year of the Fire Monkey
Each year on the Chinese lunar calendar corresponds to one of 12 zodiac animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. Each animal also cycles through 5 corresponding elements: Wood, Water, Metal, Earth, and Fire. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, the 9th animal, and this Monkey year’s element is Fire.
If you were born in 1944, 1956, 1978, 1980, 1992, or 2004, this is your zodiac animal year, or 本命年 ben ming nian. People born in the Year of the Monkey are curious, mischievous, clever, playful, and creative, and those associated with the element Fire are known to be the most audacious and competitive of all Monkeys. They are natural leaders, charming, with many friends and a tendency to play pranks and stir up trouble. If you are a Monkey, be extra careful this year – years associated with your zodiac animal are especially unlucky. Be extra careful with your health and finances, and wear something red every day to ward off bad luck!