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Lunar New Year

A library guide to Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year

A maroon banner with gold text that reads Lunar New Year. There is a graphic image of Chinese style lanterns and plum blossoms around the border.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, a major holiday celebrated by billions of people throughout numerous Asian countries and Asian communities throughout the world, marks the start of the new year for the lunisolar calendar. Based on cycles of the moon and sun, the lunisolar calendar starts on the second new moon to take place after the winter solstice and ends on the next full moon (15 days later). It celebrates both the new year and the arrival of spring. Although the date changes based on the lunisolar cycles, it falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th.

 

Often called "Chinese New Year" in the West, Lunar New Year celebrations and names differ based on the country and culture celebrating it. Lunar New Year is the most inclusive name -- used to represent the fact that it has different names in different countries and its basis on the lunisolar calendar.

Some examples include:

  • China: Chunjie (春节 – in Mandarin) or in English, Spring Festival 
  • Korea: Seollal (설날)
  • Mongolia: Tsagaan Sar
  • Taiwan: Chunjie (春节 – in Mandarin) or in English, Spring Festival or Lunar New Year
  • Tibet: Losar (Losar is celebrated February 10-12, 2024)
  • Vietnam: Tết Nguyên Đán (typically abbreviated to Tết)

 

Like the differing names, Lunar New Year has many traditions that vary by country/culture. Many of these traditions are steeped in myth.

 

Another aspect of Lunar New Year in some cultures is the tradition of the Zodiac, which is celebrated in many parts of East and Southeast Asia. 

Chinese: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig.

Vietnamese: rat, water buffalo, tiger, cat, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig.

 

In both the Chinese and Vietnamese zodiacs there are 12 animals that repeat on a 12 year cycle. Each animal is associated with different traits that are said to influence people's personalities, fortunes, careers, and relationships. Alongside the animals is an element, which continues on a cycle: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water.

2024 is the year of the Wood DRAGON! The Dragon zodiac symbolizes luck, strength, power, nobleness, confidence, and success.