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Chinese New Year 2011:The Year of Rabbit
Vishal Singh | 02 Feb 2011

According to the Chinese Zodiac which cycles every 12 years, the Lunar New Year will begin tomorrow which will marks the start of the New Year. Each Chinese year is named after an animal.

AT MY office, all my Chinese friends have left for their native country to welcome their traditional new year 2011.

According to the Chinese Zodiac which cycles every 12 years, the Lunar New Year will begin tomorrow which will marks the start of the New Year. Each Chinese year is named after an animal. This year of the Rabbit starts on February 3, 2011 and continues till January 22, 2012. 
 
Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the New Year and ends on the full moon, 15 days later. The 15th day of the New Year is called the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.  
 
The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements.Since the lunar cycle is of about 29.5 days therefore in order to catch up with the solar calendar Chinese insert an extra month once in every few years (seven years out of a 19-yearcycle). This is the same as adding an extra day in leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.  
 
The Chinese New Year has a great history. In past, people lived in an agricultural society and worked all year long. They only took a break after the harvest and before the planting of seeds. This happens to coincide with the beginning of the lunar New Year. 
 
New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair. It is a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household and the family ancestors. The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family. 
 
Chinese masks are an inevitable aspect of Chinese culture. During this colorful celebration of the Chinese festival, people wear masks made up of varied materials including cloth, paper, grass, leather. Red is favorite colour for Chinese people and that clearly appears in the masks they make.
 
Chinese New Year celebrations reflect the belief of Chinese people on gods, spirits of ancestors, legendary beings, good or evil, the dead, animal spirits, and on the beings who are believed to have supreme power over human beings. These traditional masks reflecting such supreme powers are not only respected but are also worn during the various rituals performed in Chinese New Year.
 
Chinese perform their traditional dragon dance or lion dance wearing these masks. They hang these masks around the home for decorative purpose also. People tie their New Year wish to a "wishing tree" at the Taoist White Cloud Temple at Beijing on the day of Chinese New Year. People from across the country in traditional costume take part in Chinese New Year celebrations.
 
Each year in Chinese is denoted by an animal. According to Chinese traditional calendar, Chinese New Year 2011 is year of the rabbit. It is the Xin-Mao year. Xin (Metal) is the eighth of the ten celestial stems and Mao (Rabbit) is the fourth of the twelve terrestrial branches and marks the year of the Rabbit or Hare. 
 
The Chinese New Year is very similar to the Western one, rich in traditions, folklores and rituals. It has been said that it is a combination of the Western Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.
 
On the day itself, an ancient custom called Hong Bao, meaning Red Packet, takes place. This involves married couples giving children and unmarried adults money in red envelopes. Then the family begins to say greetings from door to door, first to their relatives and then to their neighbors. Like the Western saying "let bygones be bygones," at Chinese New Year, grudges are very easily cast aside. 
 
I wish all my Chinese friends a very happy and prosperous year!