The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. It is calculated according to Chinese lunar calendar . Ancient people observe that there are 12 full moons within one year. So, its origin is associated with astronomy. Each animal sign is usually related with an earthly branch, so the animal years were called zi rabbit, chou ox, yin tiger, mao rabbit, chen dragon, si snack, wu horse, wei sheep, shen monkey, you rooster, xu dog and hai pig.
12 Animal Signs
For a long time there has been a special relationship between humans and the 12 zodiacal animals. It is believed that the years represented by the animals affect the characters of people in the same manner as the sign of zodiac adopted by western civilizations. People under different animal signs have distinct characters. Some signs are perfect match while some are less compatible or even born opponents.
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The Lantern Festival
In China, the New Year is a time of family reunion. Family members gather at each other’s homes for visits and shared meals, most significantly a feast on New Year’s Eve.
The lantern festival is held on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs, and scenes from legend and history. People hang glowing lanterns in temples, and carry lanterns to an evening parade under the light of the full moon.
In many areas the highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon—which might stretch a hundred feet long—is typically made of silk, paper, and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance as they guide the colorful beast through the streets.
Read more: Chinese New Year: 2014 | Infoplease.com http://www.infoplease.com/spot/chinesenewyear1.html#ixzz2rVkHfk3N