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Jan 13, 2020

Chinese New Year: Celebrating the Year of the Rat

By Emily Chang

Happy Chinese New Year! On Jan. 25, people all over the world will celebrate this important holiday to commemorate the end of a good year and the start of an even better one. This new year is especially notable as it is the year of the rat, the first animal in the Chinese zodiac which symbolizes the beginning of another 12-year cycle.

Unlike the American New Year which always takes place on Jan. 1, Chinese New Year falls on a different day every year. As the traditional Chinese calendar is lunar, each month is determined by a new moon. The new year can therefore begin anytime between Jan. 21 and Feb. 21.

One unique aspect of Chinese tradition is the zodiac and its various meanings. It is comprised of 12 animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) that rotate every year. It is believed that the animal of the year you are born in accurately describes your personality and characteristics, similar to the Western horoscope. For instance, it is currently the year of the rat, so anyone born this year will be considered hard-working, competitive, talkative, clever and successful.

Chinese New Year celebrations typically begin on New Yearโ€™s Eve and continue for about 15 days. This is the most important holiday in Chinese tradition and is celebrated by cleaning the house, hanging decorations, launching fireworks and more. Many people also wear red as this is considered a lucky color to bring success and drive away evil spirits. As Chinese culture places much significance on family, spending time with loved ones is essential to a happy and healthy new year.

The new year is already off to a great start with plenty of peace and prosperity to come. Happy Year of the Rat!