The Chinese New Year & Sky Lantern Festival

The Chinese New Year begins with the first New Moon of the New Year and ends 15 days later on the full moon. This year it falls between January 26th and February 2nd 09, the year of the Ox. On the fifteenth day of the New Year a Sky Lantern Festival is held.

The Chinese calendar is based on solar and lunar movements. The solar month is only 29.5 days so every now and then the Chinese have to ‘insert’ an extra month to catch up. In the same way, an extra day is added in February for a Leap Year. This is why the Chinese New Year falls on different dates every year.

There is a strict timetable for the 15 days of celebration:

small lantern The first day of the Lunar month is for the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth. Many people abstain from meat on this day as it is said to ensure long and happy lives for them.
small lantern It is believed the second day is the day of the dogs. Prayers are said for the gods and dogs.
small lantern The third and fourth days are for son-in-laws to pay respect to their parents-in-law.
small lantern On the fifth day, families do not visit other family members as it is said to bring bad luck. Families should stay at home to welcome the God of Wealth.
small lantern On the sixth to tenth days, the Chinese visit their families freely and also enter temples to pray for good fortune and health.
small lantern From the tenth to the twelfth day, friends and family are invited for dinner.
small lantern After having had so much rich food throughout the earlier days of the New Year, only rice and greens are eaten on the thirteenth day to cleanse the system.
small lantern The fourteenth day is spent preparing for the Sky Lantern Festival to take place on the fifteenth night. During the Sky lantern festival children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns and solve the riddles that have been written on them, thus officially ending the New Year.