The Chinese New Year 2008 is the Year of the Rat and in China is often referred to as the Spring Festival and signifies the beginning of the Chinese Calendar.
It is the longest festival in the Chinese calendar and the celebration is an opportunity for friends and family to get together for a huge banquet meal.
All factories cease production during this time to enable families to prepare for the festival. With 1.3 billion people living in China and visitor numbers reaching into the tens of millions it is some party.
Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on the eve of the Chinese new year and only 12 arrived so he named a year after every one of them.
Red is a colour which features widely in celebrations as it is said to symbolize fire which is said to frighten away bad luck and bad spirits. The native’s wear red and their homes are widely decorated in red too with poems displayed all around.
One of the highlights of the New Year celebrations is the dragon dance. The ‘dragon’ has a huge head and the tail can reach up to a hundred feet long. A dragon is typically made from silk, paper and bamboo in keeping with ancient tradition.
Of course, there are also fireworks EVERYWHERE and they go on until the wee small hours. They favour the VERY loud types as again, they were used in ancient China to frighten away evil spirits.