ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Holidays and Celebrations»
  • Asia Holidays»
  • Chinese Holidays

Chinese New Year, the Chinese Calendar, and the Chinese Zodiac

Updated on March 15, 2013

By Joan Whetzel

New Year is considered one of the most important holidays in China. The Chinese call it Pinyin, which is pronounced Chēn Jié, and translates to Spring Festival. Though the Chinese New Year begins this year on January 23, 2012 it is still considered the beginning of spring according to the Chinese calendar.

What Is the Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, marks the end of winter, much as Carnival marks the change of seasons between winter and spring in western traditions. The Chinese calendar is reckoned by the lunar cycle. The months begin on the darkest day. The New Year, then begins on the first day of the first month and end on the fifteenth day, when the moon is full. During this holiday, families gather on the eve of the New Year to close out the old year with the Lantern Festival and a reunion dinner. The Chinese New Year, historically, has been a time for people to reflect on past behavior and on what they believe.

Chinese Calendar

The Chinese Lunar Calendar, with its cycles of the zodiac, dates from about 2600 BC when it was introduced by the Emperor Huang Ti. It's a yearly calendar based on the cycles of the moon, with the New Year's Day falling between late January and mid-February. One complete calendar cycle consists of 5 cycles of the 12 zodiacal years, or a total of 60 years.

Each year of the Chinese Lunar Calendar is named after one of twelve animals. Legend has it that Buddha send for all the animals to him before he took his leave from Earth, but only 12 animals appeared before him to say their goodbyes. Buddha's reward was to name a year of the calendar after each of them. According to Chinese tradition, whenever a child is born, the calendar year's ruling animal has profoundly affects that person's personality for the remainder of their life.

Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals, one for each year of the 12 year cycle. The zodiac animals are separated into three groups, or categories.

1) The first group comprises the 6 zodiac signs considered to be tamed animals - the ox, goat, horse, pig, rooster, and the dog. These are the domestic animals people raise for monetary purposes as well as to feed their family. They are important to China's agricultural traditions, so if their livestock prospers, so does their family.

2) This second category consists of the wild animals which are considered to be closely connected to everyday life and to the social lives of people. This category includes the tiger, rabbit, snake, mouse, and the monkey. Some of these animals, namely the snake and the tiger, inspire awe and are said to interfere in the lives of people. Others, like the mouse, cause fear among humans but are dependent on humans for their life (food). The monkey and rabbit are considered animals that humans like.

3) The final category contains one mythological creature - the dragon, the traditional symbol of the Chinese people. This animal symbolizes luck, wealth, and auspiciousness (something that shows or implies that future success is expected).

If you missed the celebrations and fireworks of the western New Year's Eve (Dec. 31, 2011), don't worry. You can always celebrate with the Chinese New Year for 2012. This year, the Year of the Dragon, begins January 23, 2012.

Chinese New Year decorations, jewelry, toys


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)