According to Wikipedia:
Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is known as 'Spring Festival', the literal translation of the Chinese name 春節 (Pinyin: Chūnjié), since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year.
I think the red envelope tradition is one of the most interesting. Elders and married couples give red envelopes to younger unmarried people, often children. The red envelope most often contains money and it is thought to "keep away bad luck."
The upcoming year, 2013 is the year of the snake, and we are leaving 2012, the year of the dragon. Kiddo wanted to know what next year was, and then decided 2014 was going to be the year of the dinosaur. We weren't really sure what the animal was for 2014, so we let her go with it. I just hope she doesn't tell her Chinese teacher it is the year of the dinosaur. :)