Hey, Boys and Girls!
Do you know what today is? Yes, it’s February 19—but what else? Well, it happens to be the Chinese New Year. What?! Yes! It’s true. But how can China ring in the New Year today? you might be asking yourself—it isn’t January 1! Well, it may be a little hard to believe, but the New Year hasn’t always been celebrated on this date.
But how can the new year change days? Well, it isn’t that the new year changed days so much as it is, people started using different calendars (or making up their own if need be). The ancient Babylonians celebrated their New Year’s Day late in March around the vernal equinox.
The first Roman calendar had only 10 months and it contained just over 300 days. Then, in the year 46 B.C., Julius Caesar first presented his Julian calendar (which closely resembles the Gregorian calendar—the one that we know and love here in the U.S.), but had to add 90 extra days just to make it all work!
The Chinese New Year is observed throughout the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is why it is also referred to as the ‘Lunar New Year’ in most Asian countries. The Chinese New Year celebration starts on the first day of the first month and goes until the moon is brightest (approximately 15 days).
Since China adopted the Western calendar in 1912, the Chinese do join in on celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1, but they also continue to recognize a shorter version of the Chinese New Year that they now call the Spring Festival.
One of the most popular traditions of the Chinese New Year is the celebration of the Dragon Dance in which performers hold a craft-dragon by poles to raise and lower it. In Chinese legend, dragons are always considered helpful, friendly creatures. They are linked to good luck, long life, and wisdom. They also perform the equally popular lion dance as seen in the video below.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading!