26 Dazzling Chinese New Year Photos From Celebrations Around The World

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This year, Thursday, February 19 marks the beginning of the Chinese calendar year, also known as Chinese New Year. Like New Year celebrations in Western cultures, it's a major holiday that comes with major festivities, but there are other elements to the centuries-old holiday that make it unique. Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is not only a celebration of the upcoming year, but it's also a time to reflect on the past and honor one's ancestors. And in addition to the partying, there's a familial element at the core of the holiday.

Every year, Chinese families celebrate Chinese New Year by observing certain traditions. Houses are cleaned to sweep away bad luck and to make way for good fortune, while red-colored decorations that read "good fortune," "prosperity," "happiness," and "longevity" also reflect this theme. On Chinese New Year's Eve, families will gather for a big reunion dinner, where the adults hand the children red envelopes filled with money. Unlike the New Year that we know in the U.S., Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year between January 21 and February 20, depending on the lunisolar calendar. Usually, it falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Each year also corresponds with one of the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac. This New Year ushers in the year of the sheep, an auspicious animal known to be kind and peaceful and signifying prosperity. Individuals born during the year of the sheep are believed to also share these qualities. Because there are 12 animals, the next year of the sheep will be in 2027. Chinese New Year is arguably the biggest holiday in China, with some taking off weeks from work to prepare and celebrate, but it's also observed around the world, from other Asian countries like Singapore and Thailand to just about anywhere with a Chinese diaspora (think anywhere with a Chinatown). No matter where it's being celebrated, one thing is for sure: Chinese New Year is a dazzling feast for your eyes.

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