Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese calendar. In China, it is known as "Spring Festival," the literal translation of the Chinese name 春節 (Chūn Jié), since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, in a Chinese calendar year.
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions.
In the Chinese calendar, winter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes). In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4.In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20.
A reunion dinner is held on New Year's Eve where members of the family gather for the celebration. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family.
The New Year's Eve dinner is very sumptuous and traditionally includes chicken and fish. In some areas, fish (simplified Chinese: 鱼; traditional Chinese: 魚; pinyin: yú) is included, but not eaten completely (and the remainder is stored overnight), as the Chinese phrase "may there be surpluses every year" (simplified Chinese: 年年有余; traditional Chinese: 年年有餘; pinyin: nián nián yǒu yú) sounds the same as "may there be fish every year."
Red packets for the immediate family are sometimes distributed during the reunion dinner. These packets often contain money in certain numbers that reflect good luck and honorability. Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things.