Xin Nian Kuai Le! Gung Hay Fat Choy! (That’s “Happy New Year”, or literally, “May you have good fortune” in Mandarin or Cantonese).
Today marks the first day of Chinese New Year. Here are 5 cool facts you might not know about the celebrations:
1. January 23 2012 is the first day of the Chinese Year 4710, the year of the Water Dragon
2. New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, and festivities last from the first day of the lunar calendar until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest.
3. According to legend, Buddha once asked all the animals to meet him on New Year. Twelve animals came and Buddha named a year after each one. He also said that people born in each animal’s year would have some traits of that animal’s personality. Dragons are considered passionate, creative and strong-headed.
4. Chinese New Year is also known as the “Spring Festival”, as it marks the end of winter and the dawning of a new season.
5. The colour red is very important in Chinese New Year tradition, as it symbolises fire and is believed to ward off evil spirits. People wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, light fire crackers and give children presents of “lucky money” in red envelopes.
As well as being an auspicious year in the Chinese calendar, 2012 looks set to be an important year for the rise of social and networked communities, both in China and worldwide.
The importance of Chinese New Year across the world continues to grow as the influence of China itself increases on a global scale.
This influence is particularly noticeable in the spheres of digital and mobile presences. The number of internet users in China is greater than the total population of the European Union, while the number of mobile subscribers is nearing 1 billion.
Social media in particular is gaining ground in China, although the imposition of government firewalls has prevented access to sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In response, the Chinese have created their own alternative networking sites, including RenRen, Kaixin 001 and Sina Weibo. It is estimated that more people use Weibo in China than live in the whole of the United States.
In 2011, internet advertising spend in China surpassed that of newspapers for the first time. This suggests that brands and agencies are realising that online and mobile media is a more effective way to reach customers than print equivalents. China currently ranks 4th in the world for number of 3G subscribers, with 126 per cent increase from 2010 to 2011.
This all means that 2012 looks set to be the biggest Chinese New Year yet. How will you celebrate the Year of the Dragon?
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