The Lunar New Year is a festival that celebrates the beginning of the new year on the lunisolar calendar. This event is celebrated in numerous ways by different cultures.
Celebrations begin with the rising of the second new moon after the winter solstice (21 December). This can occur on any date between 21 January and 20 February. This year it took place on the 22 January 2023.
Lunar New Year is often referred to as Chinese New Year, or as the ‘Spring Festival’. In China the celebrations last for 15 days after the first lunar moon, and people get a week off work to celebrate and spend time with their families. During this time there are often outdoor displays of fireworks and dragon dancing. There are family banquets and children are given money in red envelopes.
In Vietnam, the day is called Tết Nguyên Đán, or Tết, for short, meaning Festival of the First Morning of the First Day. People decorate their houses with peach blossom to represent energy, and kumquat to represent prosperity.
North and South Korea celebrate Seollal, which lasts for three days. Korean families serve food to ancestors in a ritual called Charye, to gain their blessings for the coming year. (Source: Chinese New Year: What is it and how is it celebrated? – BBC News)
The Lunar New Year is celebrated in different ways by different cultures. Check out this BBC article for photos of Lunar New Year 2023 being celebrated around the world.
Student Content Creator Emma shares her memories celebrating Chinese New Year:
“I remember in primary school we celebrated CNY by making red paper lanterns and eating noodles for lunch haha. Nowadays my family usually makes food together – traditional Chinese food like, spring rolls, steamed fish, noodles, and dumplings. Every year we also give each other ‘red envelopes’ which has money in them. Red envelopes signify good luck for the new year ahead. My parents and grandma usually give them to me – I think it’s usually tradition to hand them to your children. Also, the colour red symbolises good luck and prosperity.
This year I am celebrating CNY with my Asian friends in London for the weekend – we’re just going to go out for a meal and then a NY celebration event in the evening.
To me, celebrating CNY is important because I feel that it provides a sense of belonging to my ethnicity also, it just brings me closer to my heritage and culture.”
2023, The Year of the Rabbit
2023 is the year of the Rabbit. Each year is represented by one of 12 different animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Each animal has a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle.
Take this quiz to find out what your Chinese zodiac animal is based on the year you were born, or check out this article to learn more about what the year of the rabbit signifies in Chinese culture.
Places you can go to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the UK
Did you know that London hosts the biggest Chinese New Year celebration outside of Asia?
It takes place across the West End of London and thousands of people visit each year. There is a parade, free stage performances in Trafalgar square, and restaurants in Chinatown where you can eat delicious traditional Chinese food. You can find out more about the celebrations and the schedule for next year on the Visit London website.
It’s easy to get to by train if you are coming from Reading. You can go from Reading Station to London Paddington, and then get the Elizabeth Line across to Tottenham Court Road.
Below are some photos of the celebrations that took place in London on Sunday 22 January 2023…
Happy Lunar New Year everyone!