The Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in
history, dating from 2600BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced
the first cycle of the zodiac. Like the Western calendar, The Chinese
Lunar Calendar is a yearly one, with the start of the lunar year being
based on the cycles of the moon. Therefore, because of this cyclical
dating, the beginning of the year can fall anywhere between late January
and the middle of February. This year it falls on February 12th. A complete
cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar names each of the
twelve years after an animal. Legend has it that
the Lord Buddha summoned all the animals to come
to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve
came to bid him farewell and as a reward he named
a year after each one in the order they arrived.
The Chinese believe the animal ruling the year in
which a person is born has a profound influence
on personality, saying: "This is the animal
that hides in your heart."