We are officially halfway through the month of January – can you believe it? While many of us have already brought in the new year with loved ones, there are still some cultures where the celebrations are just gearing up! That is right, Chinese New Year is right around the corner.
And this year is the year of the rabbit.
How about we dive into some of the celebration details?
First Things First – When is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year falls on a different day every year. The timeline is based off of the lunar calendar – on the cycles of the sun and the moon. Essentially, the new year celebration begins on the first new moon (in January or February) and continues until the next full moon. That is a 16-day span celebration!
This year, the Chinese New Year begins on January 22, 2023 (making January 21, 2023, New Year’s Eve). This is the start of their year. In honor of the holiday, the Chinese people receive an entire week off from work. In fact, many businesses will close during this timeframe, to honour the typical new year traditions. The Chinese New Year holiday will then continue on until the Lantern Festival (which is happening on February 5, 2023).
Lantern Festival concludes the new year celebrations. It is the cherry on top! On the night of February 5, 2023, Chinese people – of all ages and genders – will head out onto the streets to reunite with one another. During this night, it is tradition for lanterns of all shapes, sizes, colours, and designs to light up the town. Some lanterns will even float into the night’s sky. Each lantern has a different significance – success, happiness, safety, and other blessings. They all signify positivity and hope for a fresh year. Other Lantern Festival traditions include dancing, singing, and stilt performances.
What is the Meaning of Lunar New Year?
The Chinese Lunar New Year holds a similar meaning to a January 1st New Year. Both are about starting a fresh year, filled with endless possibilities. Leaving the previous year in the past and looking forward to a new start. Community and family also play a tremendous role in the Chinese New Year. It is tradition to set aside time to pay respect to older generations, as well as offering sacrifices to ancestors.
Family plays a significant role, especially during New Year’s Eve dinner. A large, delicious, and lucky dinner is prepared, as an entire family reunites around the table. Wondering what is so lucky about this dinner? Besides being surrounded by loved ones, the Chinese like to incorporate lucky foods into their dinner (fish, dumplings, sticky rice cake), all foods that symbolise bringing luck into the new year.
The Year of the Rabbit
Every Chinese New Year honours the Chinese zodiac. What does that mean? The Chinese zodiac contains 12 animals total. These animals include a rat, ox, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. And each animal represents different qualities of the year – and those who are born within that year.
This year is for the rabbit – more specifically a water rabbit. And things are looking bright. Overall, a rabbit signifies hope. This animal is symbolic to hope, longevity, peace, and prosperity. Honestly, does it get any better that that? Because of this, babies who are born during 2023 are believed to be caring, witty, vigilant, attentive, and quick-minded.
While being born during this year sounds extremely appealing, there are other ways to endure the rabbit’s lucky traits (even if you were born in a different year!). First things first, it is said that the new year will bring good luck if you stay awake as the clock strikes 12. As midnight hits, you are to spread words of kindness to family and friends.
This will set you up for a great year ahead. Second, handing red envelopes with money inside to children and the elderly is said to cast away any bad luck – bringing only good luck into 2023. And lastly, there are many other small gestures you can do to capture luck. These gestures include decorating the house with kumquat trees, wearing a lucky colour (red, yellow, gold), and eating lucky food (like rice dumplings and walnut cookies).
Each gesture has a different meaning – all of which are supposed to provide you with a successful and prosperous year.
Chinese New Year is a time of celebration, reunion, reflection, and traditions. And the idea of “community” is vital during these 16 days. The Chinese culture uses this time to honor and share love with one another. They appreciate those around them in the present, while looking forward to an exciting future. As we head into the Chinese New Year festivities, take time to recognise the holiday – and maybe even partake in some of the lucky traditions. It is never too late to snag a little luck for the new year!