The Chinese New Year, Explained

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Yes, it's a very festive period:

  • Feast with family members, being sure to remember ancestors, in-laws and even dogs.
  • Farmers should display their best crops.
  • Enjoy new year music, played on traditional instruments.
  • Wear festive red and gold.
  • Enjoy bright lights, firecrackers and an exciting time together.


  • Don't sweep your house on New Year's Day -- hopefully, you did this yesterday!
  • Paint the doorways red.
  • And don't drop your chopsticks, wash your hair or borrow money.


We've all seen those red paper placemats in many Chinese restaurants, featuring the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. The signs are represented by well-known animals, which, according to legend, were selected in a race across China. During each New Year celebration, a new animal is honored. Here are the personality traits commonly associated with each animal:

  • Rat: Quick, slick, witty, charming, very sharp. Can be stubborn and calculating.
  • Ox: A powerful, dependable leader. Loyal, logical and systematic.
  • Tiger: A natural air of royal authority. Powerful, confident, mysterious.
  • Rabbit: Sociable diplomats, timid and intellectual.
  • Dragon: Excitable, energetic, even explosive. Powerful and wealthy.
  • Snake: Fascinating, attractive, intriguing, even enchanting. Secretive and possessive.
  • Horse: Independent, confident, likes to roam. Can flash a temper.
  • Sheep: Stylish, creative, an innovative thinker. Loves attention.
  • Monkey: As mischievous as their namesake. Clever and inventive.
  • Rooster: Flashy, flamboyant, full of style and attitude. Very confident.
  • Dog: Faithful, trustworthy, a good listener. Sometimes stubborn.
  • Pig: As noted above, we pigs are honest, tolerant and happy.