The Chinese lunisolar calender, which is also used in other Asian countries that adopted the Han culture, is based on the phases of the moon and usually marks the new year on the second new moon of the winter solstice.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton congratulated those celebrating the new year, and speaking on behalf of President Barack Obama, she wished "warm wishes for good health, good fortune, peace and prosperity to everyone around the world celebrating the Lunar New Year."
Clinton also recognized the importance of Asian-American communities in the U.S., who are contributing "in ways large and small to our society."
"President Obama and I are committed to the people of the Asia-Pacific Region – committed to strengthening our ties with traditional allies, to making new friends, and working to forge constructive relationships throughout the region," she added.
In the U.S., large Chinese communities in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City commonly celebrate the new year with parades, as well as fireworks, street food venues, and a variety of cultural events.
The Rabbit is the fourth sign of the Chinese horoscope, which has a 12-year cycle.