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The Chinese New Year celebrations last 14 days, starting on the first day of the year with a new moon. The last day of the celebration is known as the Lantern Festival or Little New Year, and is an all-out celebration of lights and parades. Because of the way the date is calculated, the actual day in which the Chinese New Year starts can vary widely, from 22 January (2004) to 19 February (1996).
The Chinese New Year is no longer exclusive to China. In fact, more and more cultures around the world are now celebrating Chinese New Year as part of their regular calendar. This is especially predominant in areas with large Chinese populations, although the custom has spread worldwide. The Chinese New Year is a major holiday in China, Korea, Nepal, Thailand, Mongolia, and Vietnam. This is partly due to the fact that there is a large percentage of ethnic Chinese living there. Up until the beginning of the 20th century, Japan also celebrated the lunar New Year, but the practice has been abandoned. The Chinese New Year is now celebrated in certain cities in Europe and America, especially New York and Los Angeles.
The Chinese New Year is a public holiday, although rules vary. The first seven days are off days in China, but only the first one is a non-working day in Brunei and Indonesia. Most businesses in celebrating countries close during the Chinese New Year, and don't reopen until the fifth day. In China and Korea, everybody turns a year older on the seventh day of the New Year, which is known as "the common man's birthday."
During the celebrations of the Chinese New Year, it is common for families and friends to visit each other, and a big dinner is normally held on New Year's Eve. The color red is worn and used in decorations to symbolize prosperity, and people give each other small ornaments and certain flowers, such as sunflowers and narcissus, to augur a great year. Children often receive a red envelope containing money, which never amounts to $4 US Dollars, since this is considered an unlucky number.
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