Chinese New Year, known in China as Spring Festival (春節 Chunjie), is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year, especially by people outside China. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month (正月 zheng yue) in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chuxi (除夕, abbr. for 年除夕 Nian Chu Xi). It literally means "Year-pass Eve".
Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Taiwanese, Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, Chinese New Year is also celebrated, largely by overseas Chinese, and has, to varying degrees, become part of the traditional culture of these countries. In United States, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large celebrations and U.S. Post issues New Year's themed stamps in domestic and international rates.
According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or "Year" in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year and believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. Once, people saw the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red, they then understood that the Nian was afraid of color red. Hence, every time when New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and spring scroll on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten the Nian and from then on, the Nian never came to the village again and was eventually converted by Hongjunlaozu, a Taoist in the old time, and became his mount.
New Year Dates
The lunisolar Chinese calendar determines Chinese New Year dates. The calendar is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culture (notably the Taiwanese, Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese) and may have a common ancestry with the similar New Years festivals outside East Asia (such as Iran, and historically, the Bulgars lands).
In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20. This means that the holiday usually falls on the second (very rarely third) new moon after the winter solstice. In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4. The dates of Chinese new year for the following years are as below:
2010 - February 20 - Tiger year
2011 - January 29 - Rabbit year
2012 - January 28 - Dragon year
2013 - February 9 - Snake year
2014 - January 29 - Horse year
2015 - February 14 - Sheep year
2016 - February 6 - Monkey year
2017 - January 28 - Rooster
2018 - February 17 - Dog year