Chinese New Year 2012 – Year Of The Dragon

eurotalk talk now mandarin chineseThe start of the Chinese New Year begins on the 23rd January this year – 2012. This year is the Year of the Dragon and marks the beginning of the Chinese year 4710.   Why not learn to speak one of the most important languages in the world – Mandarin Chinese. To honour the start of the Chinese New Year, we are highlighting our recommended top ways to learn Mandarin Chinese, featuring some of the best and most innovative language providers in the world.

But, let’s begin by talking about the meaning of the Chinese New Year. The festivities for the Chinese New Year – also known as the Spring Festival – usually last for 15 days starting before the New Year and the full moon and include many celebrations such as: spring cleaning, fireworks, bursting of crackers, lion dance, lantern festivals, Chinese New Year Eve family dinners and a Chinese New Year Day holiday. If you’re around, go and join in the festivities. Some of the more famous celebrations outside of China take place in London’s Trafalgar Square and Chinatown and San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Day Parade.

The Chinese New Year is always in late January up to mid-February, depending upon the timing of the New Moon that month.  The Chinese lunar calendar follows the movements of the moon very closely and all months have 29 or 30 days. Every few years, there is a leap year, but instead of having just one extra day (as in the Western Gregorian calendar), there is an extra month added to even up the fact that there are about 365.25 days a year (the real time it takes the earth to go around the sun).

It is said that the Chinese lunar calendar started as the Xia calendar in the 21st – 16th century BC. It is still used widely for cultural festivals and agricultural life, although the Western Gregorian calendar was adopted with the arrival of the People’s Republic of China in the early 20th century to bring China in line with the national calendars of most of the rest of the world.

On top of this, we have the Chinese zodiac system, which is based upon the movements of the Earth around the sun and lunar activity.  Then, add in the twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat/ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig/boar), the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and Earth), Yin and Yang and you’ll start to see why the Chinese zodiac system is so complicated!  The Chinese believe that the date that you were born in these cycles heavily influence your personality traits and your direction in life. This close relationship between the earth and the moon are reflected in the language. The word for day is in fact, the Chinese for ‘sun’ and the word for month is ‘moon’.

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