The Chinese Zodiac Calendar names each of the twelve years after an animal. There is a famous legend that tells of the Lord Buddha summoning all the animals to come to him before he departed from earth. Only twelve came to say farewell and as a reward he named a year after each one in the order that they appeared before him. The Chinese believe that the year in which a person is born is profoundly influenced by the Zodiac animal, saying: "This is the animal that hides in your heart."
The Chinese Lunar New Year is the oldest chronological record in the world, dating from 2600BC.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar is a yearly one, with the lunar years beginning being based on the cycles of the moon. Therefore, the beginning of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. A complete cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each.