From the wikipedia entry on Chinese New Year:
First day of the new year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.
Indeed, my extended family members are all out doing their religious duty. They will repair to our home later this evening for an American meal I have prepared for them: Potato and bacon pie; lamb in mustard sauce, glazed carrots, salad, chicken corn soup, and apple pie. That sort of meal is decidedly not traditional, but such is the life of a multi-cultural family.
We had our traditional meal last night, on Chu Xi (New Year’s Eve), and I ate my lucky chicken, fish, soup, and sticky rice cake. We handed out red envelopes full of cash to the kids and to my father-in-law, and performed the traditional ancestral remembrances.
Here’s an article on what makes the Year of the Rat special: It’s the Year of the Rat
Best Wishes for a wonderful new year!