Cock-a-doodle-doo! It’s time to say goodbye to the Year of the Monkey and welcome the Year of the Rooster. Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year, an occasion for Chinese families all over the world to celebrate around traditional symbols and foods.
To prepare for Chinese New Year, lots of cities (both in and outside Mainland China) decorate the streets with red lanterns —symbol of brightness, happiness, and good luck— and people clean out their houses to start the year fresh and rid of bad luck. In the late hours of the New Year’s Eve, Chinese families gather together to eat dumplings, long noodles and other traditional dishes meant to bring good fortune and longevity.
Flowers and fruit giving plants symbolize the arrival of springtime. That’s why the Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival.
The Chinese calendar is based on a 12-year lunar cycle. Each year is represented by an animal, who also represents a personality type, and is believed to determine one’s personal fortune. Are you courageous like a rooster? According to Chinese tradition, the rooster is benevolent, trustworthy and brave, but also vain and self-righteous.
During the 15-day holiday, Chinese people honor their deities and ancestors, exchange presents, and prepare for the ceremonial parades -like the Dragon and Lion Dances- that mark the end of the festival.
To learn more about the Spring Festival and its more than 4,000 years of history, visit our Happy Year of the Rooster! Gallery on Flickr and add your images in the comments using the format [FLICKR URL]. You can also browse the Chinatowns of the World Flickr group for more interesting images!