Here’s everything you need to know about Chinese New Year

Here’s everything you need to know about Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the grandest and most important festival in China, spanning seven days of celebration (Photo: Shutterstock)

Chinese New Year is the grandest and most important festival in China, spanning seven days of celebration.

Unlike the universal New Year observed on 1 January, Chinese New Year never takes place on a fixed date – instead it occurs according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

When is Chinese New Year?

This year, Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday 5 February 2019, marking the beginning of the year of the Pig.

It is commonly referred to as ‘Spring Festival’, or ‘Lunar New Year’, because it is based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar.

What is the lunisolar calendar?

The Chinese calendar is based on lunar cycles, or phases of the moon.

The calendar has 12 lunar months per year, and is typically between 20 to 50 days behind the Gregorian calendar – today’s internationally accepted civil calendar.

The calendar months each begin with a new moon and always have 29 or 30 days, being as a new moon comes roughly every 29 and a half days.

2019 marks the year of the Pig, which is known as being compassionate, generous and diligent (Photo: Shutterstock)
2019 marks the year of the Pig, which is known as being compassionate, generous and diligent (Photo: Shutterstock)

What is the Chinese zodiac?

Each calendar year has a different Chinese zodiac associated with it, which run in a repeating cycle of 12 animal signs.

The zodiac animals each represent different attributes and it is believe that people born in a given year will adopt the personality traits and characteristics associated with that year’s animal.

The 12 animals were selected as they closely relate to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives, such as domestic animals like an ox, goat, rooster and pig, or because they have lucky meanings and are well loved, including a tiger and a dragon.

This year marks the year of the Pig, which is known as being compassionate, generous and diligent.

The 12 different zodiac animals, and their recent years and associated traits are:

  • Rat – 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020 – quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind
  • Ox – 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021 – diligent, dependable, strong, determined
  • Tiger – 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022 – brave, confident, competitive
  • Rabbit – 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023 – quiet, elegant, kind, responsible
  • Dragon – 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024 – confident, intelligent, enthusiastic
  • Snake – 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025 – enigmatic, intelligent, wise
  • Horse – 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026 – animated, active, energetic
  • Goat – 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027 – calm, gentle, sympathetic
  • Monkey – 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028 – sharp, smart, curiosity
  • Rooster – 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029 – observant, hardworking, courageous
  • Dog – 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030 – lovely, honest, prudent
  • Pig – 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031 – compassionate, generous, diligent

This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman