Chinese New Year 2014
Ambassador TIAN Xuejun of China addressing guests
The Embassy of China in Pretoria hosted a Temple Fair celebrating the Chinese New Year, the year of the Horse, on 18 January in Joburg. Ambassador TIAN Xuejun of China welcomed guests to the celebration. Traditional Chinese dancing, music, clothes and food marked the occasion.
The Chinese New Year in 2014 is celebrated on January 31, marking the beginning of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese zodiac.
According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. It is the most important festival of the Chinese people.
The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. According to legend, the calendar dates back to 2600 B.C., when the mythical Yellow Emperor started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac and named an animal to represent each year in the 12-year cycle.
The 12 animal signs are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
Ambassador TIAN Xuejun dotting the dragon's eyes. According to Chinese custom this brings the dragon to life.
Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated on the first day of the year of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year".
The source of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.