On February 10, 2013, Chinese New Year will be celebrated and it will become the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese horoscope.
In the build up to New Year, houses are cleaned and newly painted and gifts, food and clothing are bought. Paper cut-outs of words such as happiness, wealth and longevity are used to decorate houses along with lanterns and flowers.
On the eve of New Year families enjoy feasts and lights are kept on all night. At midnight, fireworks light up the sky.
In the morning new clothes are worn to signify the end of the old and beginning of the new and gifts are given to children, neighbours, family and friends. A traditional gift is money wrapped up in a red paper package.
Community events include street parades where gongs and drums accompany the spectacular lion and dragon dances. The children’s lantern parade is usually the final event of the New Year festivities.
The origins of the New Year celebrations are lost in history. According to one legend, a long time ago there was a beast or monster called Nian, which preyed on humans on the night before New Year. An old man came and tricked the Nian, by saying he should show how many other creatures he could devour other than humans. The old man, who turned out to be a god, and the Nian rode away.
Each New Year’s Eve people decorated their houses with red, the colour most feared by the monster, and let of fireworks, in case he decided to return.