The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China and lasts for 15 days. Like all Chinese festivals, the date of the new year is determined by the Lunar Calendar rather than the Western (Gregorian) calendar. This means that the Chinese New Year does not fall on the same date each year, although it is always in the month of January or February. On January 24, 2001, Chinese communities around the world rang in the Year of the Snake (Year 4699). The Chinese New Year is a time for families to get together and when traditions and rituals are very carefully observed in everything from food to clothing. People eat foods that will bring them luck, wear brand new clothes, get their hair cut, pay respect to ancestors and household gods, clean and decorate their homes with symbols of good fortune, burn incense, give gifts of money in red envelopes, light firecrackers, and more. Also, people greet others with "Gung Hey Fat Choy" which means "Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth".
The Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This festival marks end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. On this day, everybody displays and appreciates colorful lanterns decorated with birds, beasts and historical figures. Fireworks displays and riddle-guessing contests add to the fun. Also, it is time to eat rice soup dumplings. The dumplings are round, and symbolize family unity and completeness.
The Mid-Autumn Festival happens on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is a time for families to get together and worship the moon god. On this day, the moon is at its fullest and brightest. Chinese believe that the full moon is a symbol of abundance, harmony and luck. Chinese believe in praying to the moon god for protection, family unity, and good fortune. The round "moon cakes" eaten on this festival are symoblic of family unity and closeness. Pomelos, which represent the hope that the moon god give will them protection, are also eaten on this day.