Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines , Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and also in Chinatownselsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors. These include Korean (Seollal), Bhutanese (Losar), and Vietnamese cultures.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity". On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will include such items as pigs, ducks, chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, outside China its years are often numbered from the reign of the Yellow Emperor. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year beginning in AD 2012 the "Chinese Year" 4710, 4709, or 4649.
The first day of the 2012 Chinese New Year is on January 23, 2012 in China's time zone. This day is a new moon day, and is the first day of the first Chinese lunar month in the Chinese Lunar Calendar system. The exact new moon time is at 15:40 on 23-Jan-12 in China's time zone.
The Year 2012 is the 4709th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4709th year on January 23, 2012. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Black Water Dragon is the 28th Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 29 = 4709, therefore 2012 is the Water Dragon year, which is the 4709th Chinese Year.
Fun Facts About the Chinese New Year
- The traditional Chinese New Year celebration lasts 15 days.
- 2012 is the year of the Black Water Dragon.
- Everyone goes home for the Chinese New Year celebrations, if they can. The period just before the Chinese New Year, called chunyun, is the busiest travel time of the entire year. All across China and beyond, you’ll find people on their way home to spend this time with their families.
- The Chinese New Year is seen as the perfect time to do some spring cleaning. Traditionally, it was believed that cleaning house for the new year’s celebrations swept bad luck away and helped ensure good fortune in the year to come.
- Traditional foods include fish, which is served at the end of the New Year’s meal and symbolizes abundance, and a sticky fruitcake called Neen Gow or Nian Gow.
- Red decorations are everywhere, because the color red is considered to be one of the luckiest colors of all. Older family members use red envelopes to give gifts of cash to their younger relatives.
- Shou Sui is the practice of staying up until midnight as a family to greet the new year.
- During the Chinese New Year, people often greet each other by shouting “auspicious phrases” thought to bring luck, like “gōng xǐ fā cái,” which translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous.” Children sometimes use the following variant of this greeting when they are feeling cheeky: “gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái.” That means “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”