What Is Chinese New Year?
By Laura Young
All about Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a holiday that celebrates the beginning of a new year according to the lunar calendar. It is considered to be one of the most important holidays for Chinese families.
The holiday is celebrated with big family gatherings, gift giving, the eating of symbolic foods and display of festive decorations--all focused on bringing good luck for the new year and celebrating the coming of Spring.
When Is Chinese New Year?
The start of Chinese New Year changes every year since it is dictated by the lunar calendar. The Gregorian or solar calendar--which is based on the Earth's movement around the sun and has a fixed number of 365 days a year (366 during a leap year)--is the most widely used calendar system in the world and has been the official calendar used in China since 1912.
But in China the lunar calendar is still used to determine traditional holidays like Chinese New Year. Since the lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon-- which has a shorter cycle than the sun--Chinese New Year is never on the same day each year, but typically falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th.
How Long Do Chinese New Year Celebrations Last?
According to Daria Ng, Assistant Curator of Education at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas in New York City, celebrations can actually last up to a month, especially in China.
Originally the celebrations lasted for lengthy amounts of time because China was a very agriculture-based country so farmers took the whole month off to rest since crops couldn't be planted during the winter. Nowadays most families celebrate the New Year for about two week's time, says Ng, starting on the first day of the new year and end on the 15th.
Laura Young is editor of Crafts and Holidays & Fun on Kaboose.com.