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The new year doesn't always start on Jan. 1

By: Josh Lew on Dec. 28, 2016, 12:07 p.m.
Performers with a dragon puppet in Taipei during the Chinese New Year

Photo: 123Nelson/Shutterstock

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Chinese New Year (January or February)

Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout the Sinosphere, while Tet, the Vietnamese version of the Lunar New Year, is usually (but not always) held on the same date. Because it's based on the lunar calendar, the festival's dates vary from year to year, but it always falls between mid-January and mid-to-late-February.

In China, this is the year's biggest holiday. Schools and businesses are closed for at least a week, and tens of millions of people travel to visit their families. Familiar sights include the dragon or lion dances, during which life-sized puppets with long tails are controlled by a number of dancers. Fireworks also play a part in the festivities, though most of the celebrations, which can last for up to two weeks, focus on eating and paying visits to relatives, friends and neighbors.