One of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar arrives on Feb. 19, 2015, and it's a chance for families to come together, eat great food and spread good luck to one another.
Also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is a time when people celebrate by partaking in dragon or lion dances, eating big family dinners and handing out "lucky money" in red envelopes to children and unmarried family members, according to Timeanddate.com.
Lantern festivals and parades form a key part of celebrations.
Countries with a large Chinese population take holidays on the first few days of the New Year. Starting 15 days before the holiday, people start heading home to be with their families in what's known as the world's largest migration, or Chunyun ("Spring Festival Transport"). Last year, it was estimated 3.6 billion people made trips on planes, trains and in cars during this season, according to Business Week.
You often hear the greeting "gung hay fat choy" around this time of year, and many think it means, "Happy new year." It actually translates as "Congratulations, happiness and fortune." Children often follow this traditional greeting by saying, "Lai si tau loi," which means, "hand me a red envelope."
Every Chinese New Year celebration is associated with an astrological animal, and 2015 is the Year of the Sheep.
The sheep is known for its reflectiveness — "This creative, esoteric Sign needs plenty of time alone in which to feed its Muse," says Astrology.com.
People born in the Year of the Sheep often make good artists, or New Age teachers, the website said. They're also not known to be very organized, or to care much for material things.
The Washington Post reports that several prospective Chinese parents are "racing against time" to give birth in 2014 in order to avoid having babies in the Year of the Sheep, as superstitions say that people born under this sign will be followers, rather than leaders.
"It’s an unfair and outdated superstition," Dong Mengzhi, honourary president of the Folk Literature and Art Society in Beijing, told the newspaper.
"But it’s a convenient way for many to explain an unpredictable world."
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