Chinese New Year. Chinese Zodiac
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called the Lantern festival. Chinese New Year’s Eve is known as Chúxì. Chu literally means “change” and xi means “Eve”.
Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations. Chinese New Year is also celebrated, largely by overseas Chinese.
According to Chinese legend, the twelve animals quarrelled one day as to who was to head the cycle of years. The gods were asked to decide and they held a contest: whoever was to reach the opposite bank of the river would be first, and the rest of the animals would receive their years according to their finish.
All the twelve animals gathered at the river bank and jumped in. Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back. As the ox was about to jump ashore, the rat jumped off the ox’s back, and won the race. The pig, who was very lazy, ended up last. That is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, and the pig last.