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Chinese New Year is more often now called Lunar New Year or Spring Festival as many other nations than China celebrate the season. The calendar is based on a lunar cycle and starts on the first new moon of the new year. 2021 is the year of the Ox. 

Each year in the zodiac is based on an animal that might be from the Legend of the Jade Emperor who wanted to invite the twelve animals to a banquet where he’d select his palace guards. The Ox was set to arrive first, but the rat hid on his back and jumped over the finish line just before the Ox and was given the first position, while the Ox was given the second. 

Another option is that the twelve animals are based on star positions or the orbit of Jupiter which is roughly twelve years. Because the origin is unknown, adaptations and theories abound. Stretching from a monster named Nian who was defeated with firecrackers and the color red to the idea that long-time animosity between cats and rats stems from the rat allowing the cat to oversleep, miss the banquet, and have to live with the rat being in the first place. 

Those born in the year of the ox are dependable, hardworking, stubborn, and steadfast. Their lucky colors are yellow, white, and green. They’re most compatible with people born under the signs of the Rat, Snake, and Rooster and least compatible with those of the Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Sheep. You can find out more about the Eastern Zodiac here.  

During the festival, families around the world come together, leading to the largest human migration of the year, though the coronavirus pandemic has lowered the number of travelers in the last two years. Though the travel won’t happen on the same scale, cities around the world have Spring Festival celebrations coming up where their streets will be filled with parades, fireworks (where they’re legal), and dancing dragons and lions. Paper lanterns will join the decor on the final night of the festival, Lantern Festival.