This year, Chinese New Year falls on Feb. 1. Also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, it is an important holiday in China, as you might have guessed. Tied to the Chinese lunar calendar, the holiday is a time for celebrating and feasting, along with honoring household and heavenly deities and ancestors. Inscribed oracle bones with astronomical records indicate that the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C. Because the Lunar New Year depends on the moon, the date of Chinese New Year changes each year, but it will always fall between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.

While there are many stories, one fun legend tells the story of how the Chinese started keeping track of the passage of time by naming the years after different animals. Within the Chinese zodiac, there are 12 animals that gathered together for a race in the countryside. Each of the animals carried traits (both positive and negative) that helped them to advance in the race. The animals came through the finish line in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.