Arts of Lunar New Year

Celebrate Lunar New Year with arts and crafts from Asia

In partnership with

Quang Binh Tourism DepartmentIndonesia Gastronomy NetworkNational Intangible Heritage CenterArt Museum, The Chinese University of Hong KongSmithsonian's National Postal Museum
and 7 more collections

Welcoming the Lunar New Year!

Learn more about how Lunar New Year is celebrated in different parts of Asia

Play Lunar New Year Puzzle

Puzzle Party — Lunar New Year Edition

Celebrate and play together with your family and friends

What is red and gifted on Lunar New Year?
Clue: it has money in it
Printed money envelope

According to myths, the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac were selected through a race. This race is meant to create a time measurement for the people.

There could only be twelve winners and in order to win, the animals had to cross a rapid current river and reach the finish line on the shore.

Originally, there was a cat and a rat, who hated each other with a passion. It is hard to believe that they were once friends. These two were the worst swimmers in the animal kingdom, but they were both smart.

They discovered that the fastest way to the river is to hop on top of the ox. The generous ox agreed to carry them across the river.

However, the rat was so eager to win that he pushed the cat into the water; thus the cat never forgave the rat, and wasn't included in the race.

Other variations of the story say that it is the other way around.

All of a sudden, a loud thumping sound came: it was the rabbit.

It jumped from one stone to another and was doing well until it slipped. Fortunately, there was a log floating by and it grabbed onto that log and floated to the finish line, earning the fourth place in the race.

In fifth place was the dragon, but everyone thought that it would come in first because it could fly.

It told the Jade Emperor that it had to stop a couple of times to help some villagers. And on its way to the finish line, it saw a little rabbit on a log and decided to give a little puff of air to help it get to shore.

After the dragon, the horse came galloping towards the finish line.

The sneaky snake was hidden behind the horse’s foot. It suddenly appeared and startled the horse. The snake took advantage of this and landed itself in sixth place, and the horse landed in seventh.

Soon after, the monkey, the rooster, and the sheep landed onto shore.

Unlike some of the previous animals, these three actually helped each other to get to the finish line.

The rooster found a raft, and the monkey and sheep hopped on.

Working hard together through the water currents and the weeds, they reached shore: the sheep came in eighth place, the monkey in ninth place, and the rooster in tenth place.

Right when the emperor was about to close the race, an “oink” sound was heard: it was the pig. The expression “lazy little pig” was said to have originated from this story.

The pig felt hungry in the middle of the race, so it stopped, ate something, and then fell asleep. After it awoke, it finished the race in twelfth place and became the last animal to arrive.

Hence, the order of the lunar calendar follows the outcome of this race, where the rat is the first animal to start the sequence, and the pig is the last. After the pig, the sequence starts over again. The lunar calendar has been a significant calendar for Asia and the animal zodiac. Many parts of the world are also familiar with this calendar.

Unknown maker

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