The Chinese lunar new year begins February 12, 2021, and starts the Spring Festival season that ends fifteen days later on the evening of the Lantern Festival. 2021 is the Year of the Metal Ox. The Chinese zodiac rotates through a 12-year cycle of animals and the traditional five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, and water. The ox represents hard work and dependability and ushers in the second year of the 12-year cycle, following the Year of the Rat. Dating from as early as 1000 BCE, the traditional Chinese method of counting years is based on the sixty-year rotation of the planet Jupiter (known as the “year star”) around the sun.
Join the Smithsonian online for a fresh start Lunar New Year celebration.