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Origin of the Spring Festival

http://www.chinese.cn 10:26, January 24, 2011 chinaculture.org

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Lantern fair

Lantern fair 
The oldest and most important festival in China is the Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival is an event comparable to Christmas in the West, which marks the first day of the lunar calendar and usually falls somewhere between late January and early February of the Gregorian calendar.

Like all Chinese traditional festivals, the date of the New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar, which is divided into 12 months, each with about 29.5 days. One year has 24 solar terms in accordance with the changes of nature, stipulating the proper time for planting and harvesting. The first day of the first solar term is the Beginning of Spring, which cannot always fall on the first day of the year as in the Western Gregorian Calendar. The Spring Festival falls usually around the Beginning of Spring, heralding the beginning of spring; thus it is also known as the "Spring Festival".

Besides celebrating the earth coming back to life and the start of ploughing and sowing, this traditional festival is also a festival of reunions. No matter how far people are from their homes they will try their best to come back home for the reunion dinner.

Although the climax of the Spring Festival usually lasts three to five days, including New Year's Eve, the New Year season extends from the mid-12th month of the previous year to the middle of the first month of the lunar new year. The Lantern Festival marks the end of the New Year season and life becomes routine all over again.


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