Giddy Up! It's The Year Of The Horse

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On Friday, January 31st, 2014, more than a billion people of Chinese origin will usher in the first day of the year 4712. Known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, it marks the beginning of the longest and most significant of all Chinese festivals. As the name indicates, the four-thousand-year-old tradition whose date is determined by the lunar calendar, began as a way to mark the end of the dreary winter season and the beginning of spring.

The fifteen-day celebration that ends on February 14th, signifies a fresh start of life and is celebrated in many ways - By patching up with foes, spring cleaning the home and business and even revamping the wardrobe. Red, which symbolizes fire and is believed to ward off bad luck and keep evil spirits at bay, is the color of choice for everything, ranging from clothing to the lanterns used to adorn homes. Also customary is hanging chun lians or spring couplets containing happy messages about the future. But the best tradition of all is elders gifting red envelopes filled with money, to the younger members of the household.

As is the case with all Asian festivals, food plays an important part in the celebrations. Chinese New Year meals are delectable feasts, one in which each item signifies something special. Long uncut noodles represent a long life, while a whole chicken symbolizes family togetherness. Dumplings (which resemble ingots, an ancient Chinese currency) and spring rolls (which look like gold bars), represent wealth and prosperity.

The New Year celebrations end on the day of the full moon with a Lantern Festival. To commemorate the occasion, people visit the temple to hang lanterns and also participate with them in parades. The highlight of the celebrations is the dragon dance where men and women holding up a colorful dragon made from silk and paper, parade through the streets.

Another fun tradition is naming each year after a different animal (a cycle that repeats every 12 years). Legend has it that when Lord Buddha was alive, he called all the animals to celebrate the New Year with him - Only twelve came. He named a year after each one and said the people born in that year, would demonstrate the traits of that particular animal.

2014 is the Year of the Horse, which includes anyone born in 1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1990 & 2002. People born under this animal sign are energetic, cheerful, popular, talented and enjoy entertaining. They like to succeed and don't do too well when they fail at any task. They are also extremely independent and do not believe in asking for advice or help. As a result, even a slight setback results in bouts of bad temper.

The Chinese also believe that the animal has some influence on how the year will go for the world in general. The Year of the Horse is expected to bring general health and prosperity. It apparently is also a good year to travel to new destinations and mingle with the locals.

Though commonly known 'Chinese New Year', the day is also celebrated in neighboring Asian countries like Thailand and Singapore. In Vietnam, the new year is called 'Tet' and while the traditions are similar, the celebrations last for just seven days.

Xin Nian Kuai Le! (Happy New Year)

Resources: musiced.about.com, wikipedia.org

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278 Comments
  • darthlord
    darthlordWednesday, April 2, 2014 at 2:00 pm
    i was born in the year of the dragon
    • doge101
      doge101Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm
      Cool
    • darthlord
      darthlordWednesday, April 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm
      year of 2003 was the year of the goat
      • doge101
        doge101Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:40 pm
        I like goats but not as much as dogs and horses
        • nikukyu
          nikukyuSaturday, January 3, 2015 at 3:20 am
          Yup that's right I was born on 2003!
          • doge101
            doge101Thursday, February 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm
            I was also born in 2003 lol
            • peacheslarue
              peacheslarueSaturday, January 3, 2015 at 6:48 pm
              Me too! We r both goats! Baaaaaaa
              • ravermccare23
                ravermccare23Sunday, January 4, 2015 at 8:12 am
                Yay!! I am also, in the early part of the year
                • peacheslarue
                  peacheslarueSunday, January 4, 2015 at 9:29 am
                  Awesome! :D
          • doctorwhorocks
            doctorwhorocksWednesday, April 2, 2014 at 12:29 pm
            i born in year of 2003 i dont know which animal i was
            • nikukyu
              nikukyuSaturday, January 3, 2015 at 3:20 am
              It's the sheep
              • peacheslarue
                peacheslarueSaturday, January 3, 2015 at 6:49 pm
                Well, there are different names for the year 2003, there is sheep, goat, lamb, and ram!
                • nikukyu
                  nikukyuSunday, January 4, 2015 at 4:24 am
                  Really? In Japan we only say sheep
                  • peacheslarue
                    peacheslarueSunday, January 4, 2015 at 9:29 am
                    Maybe in different countries tey have different names?
            • Kiersten S. s3Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:37 pm
              The year of the horse is a 15 day celebration that signifies a fresh start in life for 2014. It is celebrated in many ways by the Chinese. The people born under this animal sign are energetic, cheerful, popular, talented and like to entertain. Also, the color red is very important because they believe it wards off bad luck. They use this color a lot in the parades. Can children participate in the parades?
              • hayden Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 10:56 am
                I was born the year of the horse too
                • CarolineWednesday, March 19, 2014 at 1:15 pm
                  I was also born on the day of the monkey which mean I was born 2004
                  • AlyssaTuesday, March 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm
                    Wow! That explains so much! I was born on the year of the horse, and they are my favorite animals! Even since I was a baby! I LOVE THEN SO MUCH *-* THEY SO CUTE <3 I beg my daddy for one almost every day, and he finally decided, I could just volunteer at the South Florida SPCA, and have multiple horses! (the SPCA is a horse animal shelter) Pretty awesome article!
                    • SoniaThursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm
                      I was born on the day of the monkey which means that I was born on 2004! : )
                      • IzzyThursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:01 pm
                        Awesome !!!!! :)
                        • hiThursday, March 13, 2014 at 8:46 am
                          :)