This year the Chinese New Year, which is also a celebration of the beginning of Spring, falls on the 7th of February. The Chinese follow a lunar calendar and the New Year always starts on a new moon; the festivities last for 15 days, ending on the full moon with the Lantern Festival And in the Chinese calendar it's not the year 2008 but 4705, also known as Wu Zhi, and in Chinese astrology it's the year of the Earth Rat.
Chinese New Year is a time for thanksgiving and family reunion. Traditionally it would honour the marriage of Heaven and Earth, and remembering and giving offerings to the ancestors remains important in today's practices. It is also a time for celebrating the new Spring and wishing each other happiness and luck in the year ahead. Flowers are an important part of the New Year's decorations. Blossoming plants symbolise rebirth and growth and the reawakening of nature. Flowers also symbolise wealth –without flowers there would be no fruit– and confer wishes for happiness in the year ahead. Plum blossom, pussy willow, azeleas, peonies, chrysanthemums, sunflowers and lilies are particularly popular and are associated with qualities like prosperity, luck and longevity. Red is an important colour and is commonly worn throughout the New Year period, it is believed to scare away bad fortune and spirits and to evoke courage, success, fortune and happiness.
Other New Year traditions include giving the house a good spring clean to start the year off with good Feng Shui and wearing new clothes to symbolise a new beginning. Click here for more on how to celebrate Chinese New Year yourself.