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Chinese New Year is February 126, 2015
This year is the year of the sheep.
Chinese New Year starts with the New
Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15
days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern
Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and
children carrying lanterns in a parade. The Chinese calendar is based on a
combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about
29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese
insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a
19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year.
This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year
falls on a different date each year.
Chinese New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year's Day are
celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving.
The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious
ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the
household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the
most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those
who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great
respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for
the fortune and glory of the family. The presence of the ancestors is
acknowledged on New Year's Eve with a dinner arranged for them at the
family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the
living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community.
The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" or weilu. It
symbolizes family unity and honors the past and present generations.