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Your Go-To Guide to Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac Animals

Traditional dumplings, elegant and elaborate red clothing and decorations for Chinese New Year represent protection and good fortune. Also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, this is the most important traditional festival in China and countries with  Chinese populations, such as Singapore and Malaysia. Marking the beginning of a new lunar year on the Chinese calendar, the festival typically lasts for 15 days, celebrated with traditional activities such as dragon dances, lion dances, firework displays, parades, and family reunions. 
Family, food, wealth, and health are keystones of traditional celebrations. Leading up to the Spring Festival cleaning is especially important to sweep bad luck away, making room for the good luck, however be sure not to wash away the good luck! Find out more in your go-to guide to Chinese New Year and the Chinese zodiac animals.

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Your Go-To Guide to Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac Animals

Chinese New Year

Sharing a Happy New Year greeting in Chinese is xīn nián kuài lè (新年快乐) (pronounced sheen nee-an kwye luh) in Hong Kong and other Cantonese-speaking regions, it’s more common to say gong xi fa cai (恭喜发财), (pronounced gong hei fat choy) in Mandarin Chinese, meaning “congratulations on the fortune.” It's important to be culturally sensitive to the fact that exact pronunciation may vary slightly depending on the individual speaker and the region. 

Traditionally observed as a power color, Chinese culture embraces wearing and decorating with red items. In this manner of passing along tradition and wealth, red envelopes with money inside are gifted to children during the festival to symbolize the transfer of good fortune from elders to the younger generations. Firecrackers are also popular to scare off bad luck and to welcome the new year and good luck.

Based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese zodiac, shengxiao (pronounced shnng-sshyao) translated to English means born resembling, is a repeating 12 year cycle with each year honoring an animal and its attributes. Each animal is said to represent characteristics and traits believed in Chinese culture that people are associated with based on the year in which they were born. 

Chinese Zodiac Animals

The 12 Chinese zodiac animals are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

Rat 鼠 (shǔ)
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020

Ox 牛 (niú)
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Tiger 虎 (hǔ)
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022

Rabbit 兔 (tù)
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023

Dragon 龙 (lóng)
1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Snake 蛇 (shé) 
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Horse 马 (mǎ)
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026

Goat 羊 (yang)
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Monkey 猴 (hóu)
1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Rooster 鸡 (jī)
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Dog 狗 (gǒu)
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Pig 猪 (zhū)
1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

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