The Chinese New Year is also known as the Lunar New Year and as the Spring Festival. It is celebrated by Chinese worldwide once a year, the exact date varying according to the lunar calendar, but always falling between mid January and mid February.* Chinese New Year this year (2001) begins on Wednesday, January 24, 2001 and will usher in the Year of the Snake, replacing the Year of the Dragon.

Chinese today celebrate the Chinese New Year with family gatherings and dinners. The most important dinner is the traditional Chinese New Year eve dinner where a feast of delicacies are prepared and eaten. In some places, "yu shang", a dish which includes raw fish is a must.

Houses are cleaned for the event and red trimmings are placed on doorways and windows. One weird custom is that on the first day of Chinese New Year, it is not auspicious to sweep the house.

"Ang pows"/"Hong Baos" or red paper packets filled with money/currency are given by elders to unmarried children and adults during the 15 day celebration and are supposed to bring luck. Families will visit their relatives and friends, bringing greetings from place to place, whilst children who tag along get given ang pows from each family (this used to be quite lucrative during my younger days).

Fireworks, lion dances and, sometimes, dragon dances are all part of how Chinese New Year is celebrated.

* - the Chinese figured out long ago how to correct the lunar calendar so that it would resync with the period of Earth's orbit around the Sun. This is in contrast to, say, the Muslim calendar, which also follows the phases of the Moon, but for which their New Year celebrations slips behind every year by a week or two.