Today is the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, a major holiday celebrated throughout most of Asia and around the world. Also referred to as the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, this holiday celebrates ancient traditions and ancestors and looks forward at the year ahead.
This year marks the transition from the Year of the Dog to that of the Pig, the last animal in the cycle of 12 that represent each year in the shēngxiào, or Chinese zodiac. Pigs are considered a sign of prosperity in Asian culture, and those born in the year of the Pig are said to be sincere, good-natured, and honest.
Today’s Doodle also celebrates the ancient tradition of shadow puppetry, which also has a special place in the festivities. This year, people all over the world can Celebrate Lunar New Year and the ancient storytelling art of shadow puppetry with Shadow Art. Users can form one of the twelve zodiac animal hand gestures in front of their camera and the AI system, built with Tensorflow, will play a short clip matching the shadow puppet that’s been made.
Preparations for the Lunar New Year begin well in advance of the new moon as families clean and decorate their homes, sweeping out last year’s bad luck. All cleaning stops as soon as the new year begins, for fear of driving the good luck out. Many purchase new clothes and shoes so as to make a fresh start.
The color red can be seen everywhere. A symbol of good luck, red is believed to ward off bad luck and beasts. Families come together to share special meals and exchange gifts. Children often receive “lucky money,” usually in red envelopes given by their elders.
Throughout China, the holiday season—also known as chunjie (春节)—lasts for more than two weeks and celebrations vary throughout the region. Plenty of fireworks are also set off during this time of year as tradition states the loud noise scares monsters and bad luck away. In Hong Kong, the celebration combines ancient customs, and modern excitement. A night parade kicks off the festivities with floats, dragons, dancers, and musicians. In Taiwan, the focus is on family and friends rather than big public events. Many Taiwanese enjoy visiting temples and other historic sites as well as spending time with relatives.
Happy Lunar New Year!