Today is the first day of Chinese New Year, the year of the goat, and is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar.
State media says that Chinese traveling is well under way as the annual migration, known as chun yun, sees 2.8 billion passenger trips made across China to celebrate the holiday with their families.
Chinese New Year is the longest national holiday in China, lasting 15 days. The first three days are statutory holidays, but most people are given the first six days off work.
Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar that follows the second new moon after winter solstice. It’s for this reason the actual date changes each year. The celebration is made up of reunions, gift exchanges, dinners, parades and dragon dances. The holiday brings with it many traditions.
It’s essential people wear red clothing and accessories to keep the feared mythical monster, Nian, away. Legend says the beast fears the color red.
Cleaning of the house on the twentieth day before the New Year followed by house decorating to ring in the New Year are long-time rituals of the celebration.
Each day of the Chinese New Year holiday has its own tradition. On day two it’s customary to visit relatives and friends but on day three, most people stay home because it’s not seen as a favorable day to socialize. The final day of Chinese New Year is the famous Lantern Festival.
Approximately one-sixth of the world will celebrate Chinese New Year. Cities such as Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia with their significant Chinese population, to far away cities such as New York, San Francisco and London will host some of the largest celebrations outside China.
During the celebration, children sleep with a red envelop of money (called hong bak) under their pillows to bring them good fortune and happiness. While many adults also practice this ancient tradition, only unmarried people can receive a red envelope which can only come from a married person.
Happy New Year in Mandarin is “Xin Nian Kuai” or in Cantonese, “San Nin Faai”.
According to Chinese astrology, 2015 is year of the goat. Those born in 1919, 1931, 1943, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 or 2015 are goats and can count their lucky colors as brown, red and purple. Their lucky flowers are carnations and primrose. According to Chinese tradition, Goat-people are kind and peaceful. Their most promising months are August and November.