The Lunar New Year is often called Chinese New Year – but not in China or other Asian countries. The Chinese refer to the fifteen day festival as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. A new year (in the Chinese calendar) is determined by the lunar calendar with each month beginning on the darkest day. For example the Chinese year 4713 begins on Feb. 19, 2015 and is the year of the Horse. According to legend Buddha once asked all the animals to come and see him on the Lunar New Year, twelve showed up so Buddha named a year after each of them. The legend also states that people born in those years acquire some of the traits of the animal named for the year.
There are many customs observed during Lunar New Year, such as traveling to visit your hometown or to relatives. It is the largest time of travel in China and in 2015 it was predicted that 3.62 billion journeys would occur. The fireworks displays are supposed to keep away the half lion half dragon monster Nian, and he hates the color red, therefore lots of red will be seen during the festival. It is also a time when sweets are consumed to sweeten prospects for the New Year.
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