The Lunar New Year: A Celebration You Don’t Want to Miss
As we settle into mid-January, many of us may have already forgotten about the New Year’s Eve celebration and stopped wishing our friends and co-workers a happy new year. However, it’s important to remember that the Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is yet to come.
Chinese Year’s Date
Unlike the New Year celebration we are used to, the Chinese New Year’s date changes from year to year as it is decided by the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This year, it falls within the months of January and February. The Lunar Calendar is based on the cycle of the moon and the sun and typically runs 21 to 51 days behind the internationally used Gregorian Calendar. The day of Chinese New Year is always on a new moon day, usually the second new moon after the winter solstice.
One of the most exciting things about Chinese New Year is the Zodiac Sign associated with it. Each New Year is designated to a different Zodiac Sign, with the Chinese Zodiac Signs being an ancient way of dating years in a 12-year cycle. Legend states that the Jade Emperor had all the animals of the world compete in a race, and the first 12 to win would be rewarded by having a year named after them. The Zodiac animals are an important part of Chinese culture as they have been used for centuries in stories and folklore to teach valuable life lessons.
This year, we are welcoming the Year of the Rabbit.
Specifically, the Year of the Water Rabbit, which only comes once every 60 years. The sign of the Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious. However, it’s important to note that there are five different versions of the Rabbit Sign, with each Year of the Rabbit featuring a different version.
The holiday celebration of Chinese New Year is actually a 16-day event starting on Chinese New Year’s Eve (Jan. 21) and ending with the Lantern Festival on Feb. 5. Chinese New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a similar fashion to the New Year’s Eve we are used to, with families and friends sharing a special dinner and staying up until midnight. The next day is a day for visiting friends, relatives and ancestor’s graves.
The days that follow New Year’s Day until the Lantern Festival are not as significant, but each day does have its own title and tradition. The New Year celebration comes to a close at the Lantern Festival, which is filled with fun and tradition as beautiful lanterns line the streets while crowds gather to watch the colorful dragon dance.
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If you’re in New England, you’re in luck as there are many options to learn about and celebrate Chinese culture and participate in Chinese New Year activities. From Boston’s Chinatown New Years Parade to Brattleboro’s Lunar New Year Festival and PotLuck, you’ll find something for everyone. Public libraries are also a great source of information, and many libraries will be hosting Chinese New Year’s activities. Additionally, there are many online calendars of events that list Chinese New Year celebrations in the Boston area and all across New England.
As we welcome in the Chinese/Lunar New Year on Jan. 21, let’s take the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Chinese culture and traditions and have plenty of fun. And remember, according to the Chinese Zodiac Chart, 2024 will be the Year of the Dragon and the next Year of the Rabbit will not be until 12 years from now, in 2035. Don’t miss out on this unique and exciting celebration!
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