The Chinese New Year in 2014 is celebrated on Friday, Jan. 31, marking the beginning of the Year of the Horse in the Chinese zodiac.
According to the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, the first day of the Chinese lunar year may fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. It is the most important festival of the Chinese people.
The Chinese lunar calendar incorporates both the lunar cycle and the position of the sun. According to legend, the calendar dates back to 2600 B.C., when the mythical Yellow Emperor started the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac and named an animal to represent each year in the 12-year cycle.
The 12 animal signs are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
The Sign of the Horse
If you were born in 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, or 2014, you were born under the sign of the horse.
The horse is one of the Chinese people’s favorite animals and has become closely linked to people’s lives. It provided a quick and useful mode of transportation before the invention of vehicles.
One of the ways the horse serves human beings is to give people a ride to their destination. Therefore, the horse is not only a symbol of travel, but also a sign of speedy success.
The horse ranks seventh among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in the Year of the Horse are highly animated, active, and energetic. They are typically very elegant, independent, gentle, and hardworking.
Their most striking characteristic is their strong self-confidence. Thus the Year of the Horse is a time for all people to go forward confidently in the direction of their goals and dreams, just as the horse gallops at top speed toward its destination.
New Year Traditions
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese festivals. The celebration usually lasts 15 days, from New Year’s Day to the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
There are many traditions and customs associated with the Chinese New Year. Families thoroughly clean their house in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with delicate red paper cutouts and poetic couplets—pairs of corresponding lines of poetry that express people’s joy and hope for the New Year.
Fireworks, firecrackers, red packages, the lion dance, the dragon dance, and lanterns with riddles are other common customs and traditions observed during the Chinese New Year period.
Very importantly, many families gather for a big family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and the Chinese people also pay visits to their relatives as part of the New Year celebration.
New Year Wishes
The arrival of the Year of Horse is a time to reconcile differences, let go of all grudges, and sincerely wish everyone peace, health, and happiness. Here are some of the most popular New Year wishes:
Lucky/Auspicious Year of the Horse! (馬年吉祥, mǎ nián jí xiáng)
Instant success when the horse arrives! (馬到成功, mǎ dào chéng gong)
Take the lead upon the horse! (一馬當先, yī mǎ dāng xiān)
Peace and good health in the Year of the Horse! (馬年安康, mǎ nián ān kāng)