Chinese New Year
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Date: 15 February, 2007

'In mainland China, the first seven days of the new year form a public holiday.'

Andrew Chapman is a pig. His time has come...

Sunday 18 February is Chinese New Year - also known in China as the Spring Festival.

This year sees the start of the year of the pig (or boar, or earth pig, or indeed fire pig).

You can find out which Chinese birth sign you have - it's based on the year when you were born in the system of Chinese astrology.

Pigs are described as 'pure hearted and hedonistic'. Pig years also have an 'official website'.

The festival represents the lunar new year and is celebrated across Asia. The date varies each year, from 21 January to 20 February according to when the first new moon falls.

In mainland China, the first seven days of the new year form a public holiday, and overall the festival lasts for 15 days.

Chinese families traditionally celebrate with a get-together on new year's eve - traditional foods include chiao tzu dumplings.

Buddhist practice encourages vegetarianism for the first few days of the new year, and many families eat Buddha's delight, a complex vegetable dish, on new year's day itself.

There are various traditions associated with each day of the festival period.

Various decorations are also associated with the festival, including plants such as plum blossom, and when people visit family members they often take a bag of oranges.

Other traditions and superstitions include cleaning the house thoroughly before the festival begins: out with the old and in with the new.

In London there's a parade in Chinatown every year - the city has the largest Chinese community in Europe.

Other celebrations around the country include those in Sheffield, Birmingham and Glasgow.

You can listen to a podcast about celebrating the occasion from an American perspective; and read about other Chinese festivals from a blogger in Hong Kong.

You can also find out about activities to do with children.

Happy new year! sun nin fy lok!




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