Chinese New Year 2011 – It’s The Year Of The Rabbit!

  • SumoMe

Chinese New Year 2011 or Lunar New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. The Lunar New Year festival begins on the day of the new moon which is the first day of the first month of the Chinese year. Chinese New Year ends on the full moon 15 days later ending in a traditional Lantern Festival celebration. Chinese New Year 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit and begins on February 3rd.

Chinese Lunar Calendar

The Chinese lunar calendar has been used for thousands of years and predates the International Calendar, based upon the Gregorian calendar and used by the majority of the world. The calendar uses a 12-year cycle. 12 animals symbolize each of the 12 years. According to legend, the Lord Buddha requested all the animals to come to a meeting on Chinese New Year. Only twelve animals came, and therefore He named a year after each of them. 2011 for example is the Year of the Rabbit and 2012 is the Year of The Dragon.

Celebrated throughout the world in countries with significant Chinese populations Chinese New Year is an official holiday in many countries including Mainland China, Indonesia, Hong Kong SAR, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Many countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada  do not recognize Chinese New Year as an official holiday, however major celebrations and festivities take place in larger cities with ‘Chinatown’ or significant Chinese immigrant populations. Postal services in these countries traditionally issue Chinese New Year stamps which feature the animal symbolizing each particular year.

Traditions of Chinese New Year

Regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary to some degree. However there are many common traditions and customs familiar to most Chinese throughout the world who celebrate this holiday.

According to custom,  families will thoroughly clean their homes before the beginning of the New Year to symbolically sweep away any bad luck in hopes of a prosperous new year. Main entrances to homes and business are often decorated with red and gold colored paper banners which have Chinese couplets written on them in traditional Chinese calligraphy. These couplets are displayed at the sides and top of the main entrance. Typically these will have as their themes ‘happiness’, ‘long life’ and ‘wealth’.

During Chinese New Years’ Eve families will gather together for a feast which often includes such foods as fish, pork, duck, chicken, noodles and sweet delicacies. Many of these foods are symbolic such as the noodles which symbolize long life. Families often end the night by setting off fireworks. In many households they stay awake throughout the entire night, often playing mahjong or other games to pass the time. This night, or the next morning, children will wish their parents and other elders in the family a happy new year and receive red envelopes from them. These red paper envelopes will contain money in amounts considered to be auspicious numbers. For example 400 or 4000 in currency would never be given as the number four has a similar sound to the word for death in Mandarin Chinese.

New clothing is also often given to children for Chinese New Year and adults may purchase new clothing as well to symbolize the New Year. The succeeding days of Chinese New Year festivities are then occupied with visits to relatives and friends or staying home with the family and welcoming visitors themselves.

Lantern Festival

The 15th day of the Lunar New Year is the new moon. This is the final day of Chinese New Year and is the day of the Lantern Festival. This is celebrated at night with paper lantern displays. Traditionally children would carry the colorful paper lanterns, often made by themselves or their families, in a parade.

Chinese Lunar New Year is a very festive and widely celebrated holiday and is generally a time of optimism and joy. The atmosphere is similar to that of Christmas to those familiar with western traditions. If lucky enough to be invited to participate in a Chinese New Year celebration, you shouldn’t pass up the chance.

Read more about Chinese New Year and The Chinese Zodiac:

Chinese New Year 2012 – The Year of The Dragon

Chinese New Year 2013 – The Year of The Snake

Chinese New Year 2014 – The Year of The Horse

Chinese Zodiac – The Snake

One Response to “Chinese New Year 2011 – It’s The Year Of The Rabbit!”

  1. Steven Mack says:

    Nice article, thanks for posting it…I was actually born in the year of the Rabbit:)

Leave a Reply