The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is one of mankind’s great celebratory spectacles. Typified by celebrations of animals from the Chinese zodiac, gift-giving, wild work parties, and a staggering amount of fireworks, it’s a time of joy, and the longest period off work for Chinese employees.
In folklore, many traditions are focused on the story of villagers driving away a demon called “Nian” or “year” by wearing bright red colors, making loud noises and producing bright lights.
One of the foremost traditions is that of the “red packet,” which is a small red envelope filled with money given to family, friends, coworkers, and others to bring good fortune.
Food is also important, as it is in any festival. Jiaozi are the half-moon-shaped dumplings traditionally eaten on the Spring Festival to bring wealth into the new year, and are the most famous of festival dishes. Fish is also eaten, to bring about abundance, and noodles for longevity.
It is the single largest movement of humans on Earth, with hundreds and hundreds of millions of Chinese taking trains, planes, cars, and buses out to wherever their families are to be found.
The most basic explanation for how to find the Spring Festival on a western calendar is that the date of the Chinese New Year transpires on the second new moon following the December solstice. Each year corresponds with an animal in part of a twelve-year cycle, beginning with the rat and ending with the pig.
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