Recently, the Chinese celebrated their
Chinese New Year with great festivity
across the globe, welcoming the year of the Golden
Chinese Food were prepared, houses of Chinese
families were swept clean to drive away ill-fortune. Red paper-cuts and couplets
bearing Chinese calligraphy in
black with varying wishes of good fortune were put up, firecrackers were readied
for the evening show, and Chinese dragons paraded the streets during the day.
The Chinese Spring Festival is considered the most important among other festivals in the Chinese calendar. As this is a seven-day off event for the Chinese New Year, families from afar come together to rejoice in the festivity. The most highlighted activity during this time would be the giving out of red envelopes or red packets which contain money. These are mainly presented in almost every social or family gatherings among the Chinese people. The red color symbolizes good luck and contains an amount of money ending with an even digit believed to be lucky numbers.
Although majority of the population worldwide is using the Gregorian calendar, or that which is known as the common calendar, the Chinese calendar still holds its significance in its use as reference to choose on dates for important occasions such as weddings, funerals, inauguration of a building, or on closing business deals. Since the Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar, it is mainly used to determine the phases of the moon and the tidal conditions. By simply referring to a lunar calendar, mariners are able to give accurate approximations without having to refer to the tidal tables. This is especially important in determining if the routes are passable during lunar months.
It was believed that when Buddha invited all the animals during the New Year celebration only 12 animals showed up to join him. To reward the animals for accommodating him during the said event, he named each year after every one of them relying mainly on the order of arrival of each animal. Another legend suggests that there was a time in history when twelve animals were fighting over their order in the Chinese calendar and thus the Chinese gods held a contest to settle the argument. The order was to be determined based on the order all twelve animals would be upon reaching the other side of the riverbank. It was said that as the rat and cat sat comfortably behind the ox's back who was paddling his way across the river, the rat sneaked upon the cat and pushed him into the water. Just as the ox was nearing the riverbank along with the rest of all other animals in the contest, the rat quickly jumped off the ox's back to finish the race first. The succession of the animals as followed by the Chinese