Saturday, January 19, 2008

Year of the Rat

Yes, 2008 is the Chinese Year of the Rat and it's even celebrated in Japan. Mice competed in a rodent race at a Japan zoo to celebrate the Year of the Rat which begins on February 7.

Also replicas of these creatures are given pride of place on the shelves and in the antique shops in Chinatowns throughout Asia to herald in the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year or Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.

It is an important holiday in East Asia. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month and ends on the 15th of that month.

Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had a strong influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873.

In Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and other countries with significant Chinese populations, Chinese New Year is also celebrated, largely by ethnic Chinese.

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