Chinese New Year is the most important event in China, with many festivals and traditions. The celebrations last 15 days, with fireworks, dragon and lion dances, family and friends meeting, lantern festivals, and of course lots of great food! You can see happy faces and big celebrations everywhere. These noises will continue all night long and just keep going into the next day. I love it!
Another important tradition which is also my favourite part of the Chinese New Year is the "red pocket" - a small red envelope with some money inside, that married people give to the younger generation. After collecting all my red pockets, I can buy something I like. I normally use the money to buy some new stationery for school, buy some snacks to share with my cousins, buy some fireworks to play with and buy a new bicycle if my bike was stolen again : ) (Believe or not, I have lost in total 8 bikes in China)
Other traditions include a big clean-up day at home 3 days before the 1st New Year day. A big family dinner will normally be held on both Chinese New Year's Eve and the 2nd day of the New Year. On New Year's Eve, everyone will go back to the Husband's side to have dinner and on the other night everyone goes to have dinner on the Wife's side. I still remember the big family dinner at my grandma's house every year, there will be over 40 people there and we enjoy it very very much : )!
Ok, so let's talk a little bit about the history. In 1911, China started to officially use the Gregorian calendar (the one which everyone uses now), which as we all know splits a year up into 365 days - or the time it takes the earth to orbit the sun. However, the Chinese calendar - which has been in use for about 4000 years - measures a year by the way the moon orbits the earth. One orbit takes about 29 and a half days which is a lunar month. There are 12 lunar months in a year, which makes 354 days in a lunar year. This is why, compared to the normal calendar, the Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year) is on a different day each year. In 2004, the Chinese New Year is on January 22. Also, rather than having a leap year, we have a leap month!
In short, I like school holidays, I like Mid-Autumn day better and I like Chinese New Year the most! I strongly suggest you to go to China for China New Year to feel the atmosphere and happiness that can only be understood by experiencing it yourself : )!
If you want to know more about Chinese New Year or other tranditional stories, I found the following good links for you:
Chinese New Year Histroy
When is Chinese New Year
About Lion Dance