Monday, January 2rd was the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and before you start cooking up chow mein noodles and lighting off fireworks you should know a bit about the history of this important holiday.
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday in Chinese culture. Today, January 23rd, around a quarter of the world’s population will celebrate the year of the dragon. Although the People’s Republic of China follows the same gregorian calendar as western nations, the ancient Chinese calendar is still used to calculate festivals.
The Chinese calendar was first created in 2637 B.C.E. under the rule of Emperor Huang Di. A complete calendar cycle consists of sixty years which are broken up in to five twelve year cycles. The 78th sixty year cycle began in 1984 and will end in the year 2044, ringing in a new millennium.
So while we Westerners are just getting used to the year 2012, the ancient Chinese calendar is welcoming the 4710.
And since the calendar was invented around astronomical events, each year was named to correspond with the twelve zodiac signs. While many fear that 2012 marks the end of times, Chinese see 2012 as the year of the dragon and as such, this is a particularly lucky year. The dragon is believed to be one of the most powerful animals in the zodiac and many hope that this power will protect them and bring them blessings in 2012. I sure hope the dragon can save us from another year of financial sorrows. We shall see. Happy New Years!