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Happy New Year - Lunar New Year, that is! Today, many Asian countries are celebrating the new year which they base on the lunar calendar, so the exact date changes from year to year. It may be celebrated anytime between January 21 to February 20. This year, the holiday falls on February 12th.
For most of those who celebrate, the Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year. In China, for example, families spend a lot of time preparing for its arrival. Families gather together to cook, decorate, and buying small gifts to give each other.
Traditionally, the holiday celebration is spread out over the course of up to 16 days! So food prep is a must. Many people do not even go out until the 5th day of the celebration.
In addition to spending time with family, there is a strong focus on leaving bad fortune behind and welcoming a new year of good health, prosperity, and happiness. A lot of symbolism surrounds this holiday, such as eating noodles to represent longevity and wearing new clothes because torn or stained clothing is considered unlucky. To attract prosperity, vegetables are cut into coin-like shapes before being eaten.
This year, we are entering the Year of the Ox. What does that mean? The Ox is one of the figures in the Chinese zodiac. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and each year is assigned one of them. Last year was the Year of the Rat and 2019 was the Year of the Pig. People are thought to have certain qualities depending on the animal year in which they are born. And each year brings certain challenges and blessings with it depending on the animal and how it affects your life.
Here is a great video for older students and educators from TED-Ed about the Chinese zodiac:
And here's a fun video for younger children about the story of Nian and the origin of the zodiac: