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Chinese Calendar and New Year





As everyone knows, the Chinese have their own calendar which has been in use for thousands of years.

Based on a 12-year cycle with each year paired with a particular animal, the calendar attaches considerable importance to the year of one's birth, and the year in which projects or events are undertaken.

Below are the twelve animals and their years. The word for the Chinese new year in Chinese is 春节 (Chūnjié), and because the calendar is lunar, the actual date of the start of a year varies.

The dates for the next few years are given below.

Chinese Pinyin English Years
niú ox 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009
tiger 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010
rabbit/hare 1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011
lóng dragon 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012
shé snake 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013
horse 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014
yáng ram 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015
hóu monkey 1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016
cockerel 1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017
quăn dog 1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
zhū pig 1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
shǔ rat 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

The dates for the start of Chinese New Year during the current cycle are as follows.

Animal Date
Ox February 7, 1997 January 26, 2009
Tiger January 28, 1998 February 14, 2010
Rabbit February 16, 1999 February 3, 2011
Dragon February 5, 2000 January 23, 2012
Snake January 24, 2001 February 10, 2013
Horse February 12, 2002 January 31, 2014
Goat February 1, 2003 February 19, 2015
Monkey January 22, 2004 February 8, 2016
Rooster February 9, 2005 January 28, 2017
Dog January 29, 2006 February 16, 2018
Boar February 18, 2007 February 5, 2019
Rat February 19, 1996 February 7, 2008

Also important is how to say happy new year in Chinese. Here are the standard phrases.

• 新年好 [xīnniánhăo] Happy New Year

• 年三十 [nián sānshí] New Year’s Eve

• 年初一 [nián chū yī] New Year’s Day

Celebrations for Chinese New Year involve a lot of fun. First, there are firecrackers 鞭炮 (biānpào), set off in small and large quantities, often at parades or other parties.

Then there is 压岁钱 (yāsuìqián), money given to kids as a New Year's gift. Everyone in China tries to return home to be with family and old friends, and households hang on either side of their door strips of red paper with short phrases wishing for health, happiness, and prosperity, written vertically in the traditional way.

Next, parties and food. Noodles at midnight are particularly important, as they supposedly ensure a long life. And there are the 拜年 (bàinián), a visit on New Year's to wish someone, usually 亲朋好友 (qīnpénghăoyŏu), good friends and dear relatives, a happy New Year.

Remember, Chinese New Year is now a world-wide event, celebrated in major cities in any country with a significant Chinese population. It is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, and celebrations involve fireworks, parades, performances, and feasts of extraordinary scale and scope.

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