8 things to know about Chinese New Year

Happy New Year

Chinese New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is a major holiday across China that signifies the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. February 16th heralds in the beginning of the year of the dog (and the end of the year of the rooster). Chinese New Year is all about heralding in a year of prosperity and luck. 8 is considered a lucky number so here are 8 things you should know about the Chinese New Year:

1. It's not the same day each year

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which sets January 1 as new year's day every year, the lunar calendar is based on the moon's phases. As a result, Chinese New Year starts on a different date every year.

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2. It's not just a one night celebration

Celebrations will last from February 16th to March 2nd, making this the longest holiday (15 days total) in the Chinese Calendar.

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3. It assigns a different animal from the Zodiac each year

No, this isn't your typical horoscope. Last year was the rooster and this year is the dog. Dogs are the eleventh sign in the Chinese zodiac and are seen as sincere, loyal and independent (which makes for a harmonious relationship for those around them).

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4. It's seen as an important date for families

Families will often gather together and clean their houses to sweep away bad fortune. They will also spend time together and partake in a reunion dinner.

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5. Singles often hire fake significant others

Speaking of families, some singles hire boyfriends or girlfriends to take home during this time in an effort to stave off any relationship questions. For many, the pressure is on to bring home a significant other that their parents will approve of.

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6. Red is a constant theme

People will decorate their homes with red paper cutouts, banners and special New Year paintings. They will also give red envelopes stuffed with "lucky money" to children (along with well wishes for their kids to grow up healthy).

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7. It was originally meant to scare off a monster

Many of the traditions of the Chinese New Year are rooted in fear of Nian, a ferocious monster who would wait until the first day of the year to terrorize villagers. The townspeople would then bang drums, shoot of fireworks, and display the color red in order to scare him off.

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8. Black clothes are considered an omen

As are white clothes. Both black and white are associated with mourning and thus should be avoided at all costs during the Lunar month.

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