Also called the Nian festival, the Lunar New Year and the Spring festival; Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and marks the approach of spring.
The lunar system on which the new year is based reportedly originated during the Shang Dynasty and was closely tied to methods of divination.
Similar to the Gregorian calendar's 12 months, the Chinese lunar calendar breaks down into cycles of 12, represented by 12 different animals. Each year is assigned to a different animal, as well as one of 5 elements (metal, wood, earth, water and fire.)
Celebrations for the Chinese New Year can last as long as two weeks and generally involve lots of food and family time. People wear red as a symbol of luck and pass out red envelopes full of money to children and close relatives.
Whether you believe in the astrological basis for the Chinese New Year or not, the holiday offers an occasion for merriment, delicious food and time with friends and family