Lunar New Year: All You Need To Know About This Festival of Lights and Reunion

The Chinese New Year, which is also called the Lunar New Year, is a celebration that takes place at the start of each new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. The Spring Festival (traditional Chinese: simplified Chinese: pinyin: Chnjié) is a common name for the celebration in Chinese. This name can be written in either traditional or simplified Chinese. Since lichun is usually the first day of spring on the lunisolar calendar, the festival celebrates the first of the twenty-four solar terms around the time of the Chinese New Year. This is because lichun is the first of the twenty-four solar terms. Observances traditionally begin on New Year's Eve, the evening prior to the first day of the year, and continue through the Lantern Festival, which is held on the 15th day of the year. These celebrations serve to mark the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season. The new moon that occurs between the 21st of January and the 20th of February marks the beginning of the first day of the Chinese New Year. 



The Chinese New Year has had a profound influence on the Lunar New Year celebrations of China's 56 ethnic groups, such as the Losar of Tibet (Tibetan:), and China's neighbors, such as the Korean New Year and the Tet of Vietnam, as well as in Okinawa. People also celebrate it a lot in Southeast Asia and other places where there are a lot of Chinese or Sinophone people. Countries like Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are included in this group. Beyond Asia, it is also common in many other countries: Australia, Canada, Mauritius, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


When is the Lunar New Year in 2023?


As the start of the Lunar New Year is determined by the lunar calendar, the particular date varies every year. But it generally falls between the 21st of January and the 20th of February each year. In 2023, the Lunar New Year will be celebrated on January 22.


Lunar New Year Zodiac Animal:


In the lunar calendar, each year is associated with a zodiac animal. Years are traditionally calculated in China using the moon phases. A zodiac year spans the first to the last day of a lunar year, which typically begins and ends in the Gregorian calendar's winter months of January and February. For instance, beginning on the 22nd of January, 2023 (the Chinese New Year), and concluding on the 9th of February, 2024, 2023 is the Year of the Water Rabbit. In Chinese culture, the rabbit is highly valued because it is a sign of long life, peace, and wealth.


The Chinese zodiac is made up of twelve different animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Every year in the cycle corresponds to one of the twelve animals, and they always appear in this order. 


Important Lunar New Year Dates and Events:

The Spring Festival, as the Chinese New Year is also known, is the year's longest holiday and has a rich history dating back more than four thousand years. Modern celebrations start on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar and continue through the 15th, though the public holiday is only for the first week. On February 5, 2023, after 16 days of celebrations, the Chinese New Year will end with the Lantern Festival.

During the first five days of China's Spring Festival, all shops are closed, and some don't reopen until the festival's conclusion. Preparation for the New Year necessitates stocking up on necessities (/nian huo), which many people start doing during the Laba Festival. Preserved meats, fish, and other foods will begin to appear on restaurant menus as chefs begin to prepare for the Spring Festival.

The Chinese New Year celebrations begin on January 14 with Little New Year. Listed below are some crucial dates during the Chinese New Year:


  1. Little Year (小年 Xiǎonián) - Jan 14 

  2. Chinese New Year’s Eve (除夕 Chúxì) - Jan 21

  3. Chinese New Year's Day (初一 Chūyī) - Jan 22

  4. To the in-law’s (迎婿日 / yíng xù rì) - Jan 23

  5. Day of the Rat (鼠日 / shǔ rì) - Jan 24

  6. Day of the Sheep (羊日 / yáng rì) - Jan 25

  7. Break Five (破五 / pò wǔ) - Jan 26

  8. Day of the Horse (马日 / mǎ rì) - Jan 27

  9. Day of the Human (人日 / rén rì) - Jan 28

  10. Day of the Millet (谷日节 / gǔ rì jié) - Jan 29

  11. Providence Health (天公生 / tiān gōng shēng) - Jan 30

  12. Stone Festival (石头节 / shí tou jié) - Jan 31

  13. Son-in-law Day (子婿日 / zǐ xù rì) - Feb 1

  14. Lantern Festival (元宵节 / yuán xiāo jié) - Feb 5


Lunar New Year Traditions:


  1. Cleaning the House & Decorating it with Red:

People clean their homes meticulously before the Spring Festival as a symbol of sweeping away the bad luck of the previous year and making their homes ready to receive good luck for the coming year.

The color red is prominently featured throughout the celebration because it is thought to bring good fortune during the Lunar New Year. This is because red is associated with wealth and positive energy, two things that keep away bad energies and spirits. Streets are decorated with red lanterns and strings of chili peppers, and doors are decorated with red couplets and New Year's pictures.


  1. Family Reunion Dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve:


The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, is a time when families get together. The most significant event occurs on the eve of the Chinese New Year. It is expected that people will be at their homes to celebrate the holiday with their families, regardless of where they are. The dinner served on the eve of Chinese New Year is referred to as "reunion dinner." Large families with several generations can be found eating and talking around round tables.


  1. Paying Respect to the God & Ancestors:

One of the most important customs of the Lunar New Year is to worship the gods and pay respect to the ancestors. On the eve of the new year, people generally visit the graves with food and wine to honor the dead in the family. They offer sacrifices and even put separate glasses and plates on the dinner table.


  1. Kids receive Red Packets:

During the spring festival, people also exchange presents with one another. On the other hand, red envelopes are another form of currency given to Chinese children.

Red envelopes, pockets, or packets contain cash and have another name. So, it is hoped that this money gift will make it easier for wealth to be passed down from one generation to the next. Not only can these cards be given to bosses and employees, but they can also be given to friends, coworkers, and other people you know.

Red pockets have gone digital as technology has advanced. It's popular to throw one into a group chat and watch as people try to divide the pot. The Chinese term for this practice is "snatching red pockets" (qiang hongbao).


  1. People burst Firecrackers:

One legend says that there used to be a scary creature called Nian. It happened each time on New Year’s Eve. The majority of people would stay hidden inside their own homes. But there was one young man who mustered the courage to fight him off with firecrackers. The following day, people celebrated their survival by setting off even more firecrackers than the day before. And ultimately, that custom evolved into an essential component of the spring festival. Fireworks are thought to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. Fireworks are traditionally set off at midnight on Chinese New Year's Eve. In the morning, people once again use firecrackers to usher in the new year and bring in prosperity.


  1. Lunar Festival Foods are Everything:

As the custom goes, people should eat dumplings for every meal for 5 days during the Lunar New Year. But most people don’t follow this tradition strictly anymore. On the other hand, a lot of other food items have gained popularity.

The Yule Log Cake is just one example of many culturally significant foods. But a lot of the sweets served during the Chinese New Year are ways to honor important cultural ideas. and most of the time the name is a pun.

Consider the Tang yuan as an illustration. It's a snack dish with a name whose pronunciation is eerily similar to the word for "reunion" (tuanyuan). For this reason, it's not surprising that this sweet treat is a staple of Chinese New Year celebrations.

A nian gao is a traditional Chinese rice cake. As such, it is a symbol of annual achievement.

The Chinese dessert known as "fa gao" combines sponge cakes and muffins. It gets dyed in bright colors for the holidays. The word "fa" sounds like it is derived from the character, which means "to get rich." And that's what everyone's after.


  1. Good wine and drinking games are Crucial:

The Chinese love their alcohol. People often say that a party or get-together isn't complete without a bottle of wine. In other words, you should always have wine on hand for special occasions like weddings, holidays, and formal dinners.

It's not just the Spring Festival that calls for wine; there are also engagement dinners, weddings, birthdays, and more. Given that the country has been making wine for a long time, it makes sense that there would be a lot of drinking games in any social gathering.


  1. Lion dance & Dragon dance:

During the Lunar New Year celebrations, lion dances and dragon dances are common sights in China and in the Chinatowns of many Western countries. This practice is carried out to ensure success and happiness in the coming year or special occasion.



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