Today is Chinese lunar new year, which in 2017 is the year of the rooster. Each year, the Chinese calendar assigns an animal from a rotating zodiac of 12 animals. The 12 animal cycle rotates through the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Apart from 2017, the year of the rooster includes the years 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2029.
Those born in rooster years are characterised as being observant and hardworking. They are active and talkative and according to Chinese astrology roosters tend to enjoy social events and are very comfortable being the center of attention.
2017 is a fire rooster year. As in Chinese medicine, Chinese astrology is inextricably linked to the elements so that each year is associated with one of five elements as well as an animal, including gold (metal), wood, water, fire or earth. The element, combined with the zodiac animal, set the astrology for the year. This year is a fire year, and so those born in 2017 are fire roosters. The last fire rooster year was 1957.
In contrast to the 365 day solar year of Gregorian calendar the date of Chinese new year is determined by the traditional Chinese calendar which is lunisolar. This means that it’s based on the cycle of the moon as well as on earth’s course around the sun. A month on this Chinese calendar is 28 days long, and a normal year lasts from 353 to 355 days. To keep the calendar in sync with the sun and the seasons, the Chinese add an extra leap month about once every three years.
Determining the date of Chinese new year requires some complicated calculations. In most cases, it falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. In the Gregorian calendar, the solstice is around Dec. 21 which is why Chinese new year typically occurs in late January or during one of the first three weeks of February.
Chinese new year is celebrated around the world with a blaze of firecrackers, for 16 days beginning with new years eve reunion dinners and culminating in the lantern festivals. Like Christmas in the West, people exchange gifts during the new year festivities. The most common gifts are red envelopes which symbolise good luck and contain money to be given to children and (retired) seniors. It is a time for families to come together, enjoy the holidays and wish for a lucky and prosperous year ahead.