The Chinese year 4711 begins on February 10, 2013. The Lunar New Year is observed on the second new moon after the winter solstice and celebrations last for 15 days. According to the Encyclopedia of Holidays and Celebrations: a Country-by-Country Guide (which is located in the Library’s Reference Collection), Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year, stressing the importance of family. It is a time of visiting with family and friends.
Also known as the “Spring Festival” (Zhun Jie), there are many customs associated with the holiday. According to tradition, in advance of the New Year, the house is thoroughly cleaned, debts are paid off, and enough food is cooked to last the next two days (so scissors, knives and other sharp utensils can be put away to avoid “cutting” the luck New Year’s bring). Often, new red clothes are worn, Spring couplets (poems) are written in black ink on red paper and children are given “lucky money’ in red envelopes. Everyone is supposed to be on their best behavior. The New Year celebrations come to an end on the 15th day of the first new moon with the Lantern Festival. On that night people carry lanterns into the streets and participate in parades that include dragon dancers.
According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with one of twelve animals. The year starting on February 10, will be the Year of the Snake. Those born in the Year of Snake are elegant, knowledgeable, cautious and wise. Unfortunately, those born in this year can also be conceited, insatiable or sluggish (according to The 12 Chinese Animals by Zhongxian Wu).
For more information on the Chinese New Year check out the History Channel website.
And if you would like to celebrate the New Year by trying your hand at some recipes for traditional foods served at New Years, check out our collection of Chinese cookbooks!
So Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hay Fat Choy (Cantonese)! [And if you would like to learn how to pronounce these phrases, don’t forget our Mango Languages database … you can learn Mandarin and Cantonese online]