Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also know as the Spring Festival, is a fifteen day holiday honoring deities and ancestors.  The days are different each year because the holiday is based on the lunar and solar calendar (lunisolar Chinese calendar).  The year is determined by the zodiac animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The legend of Chinese New Year is based on the mythical beast, Nian, who would eat villagers, especially children.  One day an old man appeared in the village and decided to kill the beast.  That night, the villagers hid in the forest while the man stayed in the village. The next day, the villagers returned to find their town safe and Nian gone.  The villagers realized that the man, a deity, had used red paper and firecrackers to scare the beast. Today, red envelopes full of money, red clothes, red dragons, and firecrackers are part of the celebration.  Music, dance, food, family, good fortune highlight this holiday.