Chinese New Year 2012: Year of the Dragon
January 23, 2012 marks the start of the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. So what exactly is Chinese New Year? Find out right here on Kidzworld!
All About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a holiday celebrating the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. It's one of the most important holidays for Chinese families, who celebrate with big family gatherings, gift giving, eating special foods and tons of decorations, which all focus on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring. Some Chinese families celebrate Chinese New Year for a whole month!
Traditions & Symbols
Clean house and new clothes: Before the first day of Chinese New Year families clean their homes from top to bottom to clear out any bad luck from the last year and to get the house ready for good luck in the new year. But be careful: all the cleaning has to be finished before New Year's Day so there's no chance of accidentally throwing out the good fortune of the new year.
Also, before New Year's Day, you're supposed to buy new clothes or cut your hair in order to have a fresh start. And never, ever wear black during Chinese New Year - it's bad luck. Red is the colour of good luck, so wearing lots of red is encouraged.
Decorate the house. Another popular custom is to hang up signs and posters on doors and windows with the Chinese word fu written on them, which means luck and happiness. Put a lot of flowers around your home - they symbolize a new beginning.
Eat with your family. On the night of the Chinese New Year it's customary to visit relatives and eat a huge meal that includes:
- Eight or nine different dishes, because those are lucky numbers (nine = prosperity; eight = long-lasting).
- Dumplings (because they look like gold nuggets).
- Oranges (because they're perfectly round, symbolizing wholeness).
- Long noodles (because they symbolize long life).
- Sticky rice cakes and sweets (because they're part of a story about the Kitchen God, who is sorta like Santa Claus).
Give good luck gifts. Lots of kids get gifts from adults on Chinese New Year - little red envelopes stuffed with money to symbolize wealth for the coming year. But don't open your envelope until the person who gave it to you has left your home!
Make lanterns. The Chinese New Year celebration ends with a Lantern Festival, which honors the first full moon of the year and represents the coming of Spring. Families light lanterns, which symbolize the brightness of spring, and hang them on walls around the house or carry them on poles in lantern parades.
Honor the animal. For Chinese families, every year is associated with one of 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. These animals are often represented in decorations during the holiday. This year, the animal is the Rabbit. Some people think if you were born during the year of a certain animal you'll end up with the character traits of that animal. For example, if you were born during the year of the rat, you will grow up to be imaginative and cunning.