Chinese New Year also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is one of the most important and biggest events to chinese communities. The history of the Chinese New Year can be traced back as far as 3,500 years ago and is one of the longest holidays of the year. The holiday is traditionally a time to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors. It's also a time to bring family together for feasting.

Lunar New Year

The Chinese lunar calendar, functions as a religious, dynastic and social guide. History shows that the Lunar Calendar existed as early as the 14th century B.C, during the Shang Dynasty. The chinese calendar was controlled according to the lunar phases, solar solstices and equinoxes. Yin and yang, the complementary principles that make up the harmonious world, also ruled the calendar.

Chinese New Year typically starts with the new moon at the end of January and the end of February, and lasts for 15 days until the new moon arrives for the Festival of lanterns.

Chinese New Year Animals

The Chinese Calendar also includes the Chinese zodiac, the cycle of 12 signs along the path of the sun through the cosmos. Each year is marked by the characteristics of one of the 12 zodiac animals - the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This year is the year of the rat and according to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first.

In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children.

Chinese Flowers to Give

Orchids:

Orchids are beautiful and elegant, have been considered to be symbolic of 'many children' or fertility and abundance. Since many couples pray to the rat for children, this is the perfect gift to give.

Pussy Willow:

Pussy Willow means growth and prosperity with the little shoots of buds coming out of the plant.

Marigolds:

Brightly coloured, these plants are called wan shou ju in Mandarin, which is symbolic of longevitytity.

Chrysanthemums:

Bright gold or purple hues chrysanthemums represent longevity, while the gold blooms represent wealth and prosperity.

Lucky Bamboo:

The lucky bamboo is the chinese symbol for strength. They are usually decorated in red ribbon and lucky ornaments. The number of bamboo stalks in the pot can represent different things - 2 stalks means love, 3 stalks is happiness, wealth and long life, 5 stalks represents life that impacts wealth and 6 stalks represent goodluck and wealth.