What’s the difference between the Chinese New Year and the Lunar New Year?

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it has a lot going on. The month brings us Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, Valentine’s Day, and the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year is right around the corner, beginning on Friday, February 16th. You may have heard both the terms “Chinese New Year” and “Lunar New Year” the past several weeks, and you may very well be wondering what the difference is — or if there’s even a difference at all.

The Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year, and the Spring Festival are all related to one another, but they are not the same thing.” The Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar, as explained on History.com. The lunar calendar, if you were wondering, is a calendar based on complete cycles of phases of the Moon.  Basically, the Chinese New Year marks the start of a new lunar year.

The Chinese New Year kicks off with the new moon (a slender crescent moon that’s usually not visible on Earth), which falls between the end of January and the end of February. Celebrations last for 15 days, culminating when the full moon arrives, and typically includes lighting traditional Chinese lanterns (along with other significant traditions).

Each Chinese New Year also marks the year of one of 12 traditional animals, and 2018 is the Year of the Dog. The dog represents things like protection, loyalty, determination, and productivity. After 2017, we can definitely get behind that.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone who celebrates.