Are you ready for one of the biggest celebrations in the world? Lunar New Year 2023, which you may also hear called Chinese New Year, is celebrated across the globe, not just in Asia.
Read on to find out how people celebrate it in different countries and try our special Lunar New Year 2023 themed phrasal verb quiz!
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is a festival to mark the beginning of the new year. Of course, it’s a huge party with parades, but it’s also a time for families to be together and enjoy one another’s company. The celebrations follow centuries of traditions, rituals, and superstitions and are the biggest events of the year.
It is often referred to as Chinese New Year because this is the country which has the largest and most elaborate celebrations. However, this festival is significant in many more countries, with variations on customs and traditions.
When is the Lunar New Year 2023 celebrated?
This year, the Year of the Rabbit, starts on January 22nd but Lunar New Year changes every year because it follows the Chinese lunisolar calendar and not the Gregorian calendar. This means the first day of the holiday is the first day of the lunar month, and can last as long as 15 days, until when the moon is full. Although in some countries the festival may last for 15 days, the official public holidays, when schools and workplaces are closed, usually take place during the first three days.
In fact, the party starts the night before on Lunar New Year’s Eve when many families gather for a “reunion” dinner. Towns and cities may put on huge firework displays and host street parades that carry on for the first two days. There may also be processions and fireworks to close the festival. This is ideal if you miss the first day because you’re traveling home.
How is Lunar New Year celebrated?
Unlike the Western New Year, the Lunar New Year doesn’t have the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, the holiday is tied to traditions around bringing good luck for the year ahead. One of the most important Lunar New Year symbols is the lucky color red which represents fire and keeps away bad luck and evil spirits. In China, where the celebrations are extremely important, people wear red clothes, give out money in red envelopes, and many of the traditions involve fire, like fireworks and hanging lanterns in temples.
Eating plays a big part in the traditions and there are some very special Lunar New Year foods. After traveling to be with family for the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner, people enjoy dishes which are symbolically significant. Though these can vary depending on the country, many of them are chosen because they represent wealth or are believed to bring good luck for the year.
Lunar New Year celebrations around the world
In Vietnam’s big cities like Hanoi, Hue, and Ho Chi Minh, you can expect to see firework displays and people welcoming their version of Lunar New Year, Tet Nguyen Dan. The biggest festival is in Hanoi, with a 15-minute show of lights at midnight over Hoan Kiem Lake. Many traditions resemble the Chinese celebrations, but some are unique to Vietnam. For example, on the first, seventh, and last day of Tet, the Tet pole, the cay neu, is raised at Hue Imperial Palace and in Vietnamese homes. They do this to banish monsters and evil spirits.
As Japan stopped following the lunar calendar in the 1800s, Lunar New Year is a smaller event than in other Asian countries. Schools and businesses stay open because it isn’t a public holiday in Japan. That doesn’t mean they don’t celebrate though! Nagasaki, a city with one of Japan’s biggest “Chinatowns”, has become famous for its lantern festival and the Tokyo Tower is often lit up red at night.
In China most families will decorate their houses on New Year’s Eve. They put up red lanterns, paper shapes, and paintings. The animal for Lunar New Year 2023 is the rabbit so you can expect to see plenty of rabbits decorating houses across the country. In the evening families will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a reunion dinner and will traditionally watch the Chinese national television New Year Gala. This is a four-hour show starting at 8 pm with folk and pop music, dancing, and acrobats. It’s a busy day!
Lunar New Year is called Seollal in Korean and is a time of family celebration as people travel to their hometowns. Rituals include a big fire to bring a good harvest and peace for the coming year, horse riding, martial arts, and rice cake soup called tteokguk.
The large Chinese community in India celebrates Lunar New Year, despite it not being an official holiday there. People, especially those married into Indian families, introduce their friends and relatives to traditional Chinese New Year food. In cities like Kolkata with large Chinese populations, special bazaars spring up selling lanterns.
San Francisco claims to have one of the world’s biggest Lunar New Year celebrations outside Asia, with a huge parade of lights. Los Angeles also has a one-hundred-year old parade with floats and marching bands called the Golden Dragon Parade. New York hosts an annual firecracker release in Sara D Roosevelt Park to rid the city of bad spirits, followed by a parade that ends in Chinatown.
Practice your English for celebrations with this quick quiz
Try out our Lunar New Year themed phrasal verb quiz. You’ll find the answers at the bottom of the page.
1. People put _______ paper decorations in their houses to bring good luck.
2. Fireworks displays ____ place at midnight on New Year’s Eve.
3. In New York, they set ____ thousands of firecrackers. It’s very loud!
4. People give ____ lucky money in red envelopes.
5. People like to see ____ Lunar New Year with their families but then they go to bed soon after midnight.
6. Unlike with New Year’s Resolutions, Lunar New Year isn’t a time to try and give _____ bad habits and form new ones.
Happy Lunar New Year!
Answers to our Lunar New Year phrasal verb quiz: