The Lunar New Year begins this weekend, and if you feel like the last year has been a turbulent roller coaster, you’ll be relieved to learn that the rabbit, a traditional symbol of optimism and tranquility as the Year of the Tiger draws to a close, may portend a more tranquil year ahead.
One of the most significant Asian festivals, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is celebrated with family gatherings, food, and presents.
Additionally, the celebration is now officially recognized as a state holiday in California for the first time.
Here is the information you need to know about the new year’s holiday that more than a billion people around the world observe.
What represents the Year of the Rabbit?
The Chinese Zodiac system allocates one of 12 animals each year. According to legend, the rabbit, who was known for its speed, looked down on the slower, plodding ox. However, after taking a nap while traveling to the banquet of the Jade Emperor while competing with other animals, the rabbit arrived to find the ox, tiger, and rat ahead of it, earning it the fourth position in the zodiac calendar.
The signs of this zodiac (2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951) are known for their quick wit and empathy. According to the zodiac system, they are also intelligent and appreciate introspection, making them frequently academic. In patiently pursuing their objectives, they can also be discrete, although their caution may make them less dependable.
Is it also the Year of the Cat, I hear you ask?
Yes, even though the Year of the Rabbit will be celebrated in the majority of East Asian countries, Vietnam will be honoring the Year of the Cat.
Why Vietnam’s custom is different from its neighbors is unknown. But compared to rabbits, cats are significantly more prevalent in Vietnam. Folktales and rhymes regularly include cats, who are frequently portrayed as the companions of farmers chasing off troublesome vermin. Cats are depicted in statues and cat charms to mark the new year because they are believed to be majestic and to help ward off evil spirits.
Additionally, the year of the ox is a little different in Vietnam, where a water buffalo stands in for the animal.
Lunar New Year occurs when?
Every year, a new date for the start of the new year is determined by the second new moon following the winter solstice.
Lunar New Year falls on January 22 this year.
The Lantern Festival, a time of reunions and lion dances, which will take place this year on February 5th, marks the end of the new year celebrations, which frequently continue for several days.
What are some ways I can observe the Lunar New Year?
Even though families and groups of friends may have their unique customs, there are a few standard ways to celebrate.
Elders will give children red envelopes, or “hong bao” as they are known in Mandarin, filled with fresh bank notes as gifts. Many people display red-and-gold decorations or wear red clothing, which historically denotes fortune and success.
Fireworks are another popular kind of entertainment, and they are frequently used to ward off ill luck and evil spirits. They frequently go along with huge parades that include floats and dragon and lion costumes. Some people visit temples, have their hair cut, or meticulously clean their homes.
Feasts and food play a significant part in celebrations as well, and families frequently prepare dumplings ritualistically together. Foods can serve as symbols. Long noodles, for instance, symbolize the wish for a long life, and fish is also well-liked because the Chinese term for fish has the same sound as surplus, ensuring abundance for the coming year.
There are many ways to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in the Washington region and throughout the nation. Saying “Gong Hei Fat Choy” in Cantonese or “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (pronounce “shin-nyen kwai-le”) in Mandarin will help you greet your friends and coworkers with a happy new year.
How is the Lunar New Year being observed in California?
California, which has one of the largest Asian American communities in the nation, will this year observe the Lunar New Year as an official state holiday for the first time.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared, “The Lunar New Year marks a chance to leave behind the difficulties of the past year and encourage prosperity and good luck moving forward.” The diversity and cultural value that Asian Americans provide to California are recognized by declaring this day a state holiday.