The Western Calendar says that New Year's is on January first, but that's no surprise and it's not very interesting. But the Chinese calendar is interesting!
The Chinese New Year changes every year. In 2006, the new year was on January 29th. In 2007, however, they will celebrate New Year's Day on February 18th!
It's determined by the second new moon in a winter solstice. The Chinese calendar is based entirely on the observations of the movement of the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars. It measures time, from short durations of minutes and hours, to the intervals of time measured in months, years, and centuries.
Most people know the Chinese calendar by its mascot. In 2006, it was the, 'Year of the Dog,' but in 2007, it will be the, 'Year of the Pig.' Their are twelve animal names, so by the calendar, the year names are re-cycled every twelve years.
Another way to name the Chinese calendar is by its formal name, the Stem-Branch. In that system, the years are named in a 60-year cycle.
There is also another way some people name the Chinese calendar. That is by its year number. By the Chinese calendar, in 2007, it will be Year 4703.
An interesting fact about the year 2006 is it was a leap year! Unlike the western calendar, where one extra day is added to February, one whole extra leap month is added in a Chinese leap year. That is pretty bizarre, but it's worked for centuries!
They decorate and celebrate for the new year, just like we do! Lining their doorway, they have a chun lian, which is written on a vertical strip of red paper in calligraphy. The message is a happy, hopeful, and uplifting couplet about the new year to come. They make posters and send New Year cards to families and friends. In China, they also have a big festival that involves the Chinese dragon and Chinese sky-writing.
*Maglina was here . . . but is now looking for more information about the animal of the years*