Celebrated by over 2 billion people across the world, the Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year in Asian cultures. It is centered around the hope for good fortune and prosperity and is filled with lots of special foods and traditions. It takes place on different dates every year depending on the position of the moon, this year it begins on Feb. 1 and lasts until Feb. 15.
The term Lunar New Year is used to describe the Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese New Year, but the countries take pride in their unique celebrations and traditions. Even the North and South regions of both China and Korea celebrate the holiday slightly differently.
Some common customs include cleaning before the Lunar New Year comes to rid homes of negativity, passing out envelopes of ‘lucky money’ to children and young adults, eating special foods with family on new year’s day, and reflecting on their ancestors.
One of the biggest questions that people have about the Lunar New Year is ‘why doesn’t it line up with the New Year that we celebrate here in the U.S. on Jan. 1?’
Though Asian countries use the modern calendar, also known as the Gregorian Calendar, for official purposes, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures still use the Lunisolar Calendar (Shixian Calendar) created by Chinese scholar Xu Guangoi in the mid-17th century to mark their traditional holidays. Japan is an exception to this, having phased out the Lunisolar calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar for official and holiday use.
Though it slightly varies throughout the Asian countries, each year has a corresponding animal derived from the 12 Chinese Zodiacs assigned by the Chinese Emperor centuries ago. When the animal from the year you were born takes its turn in the zodiac cycle, legend has it that your year will be full of surprises.
2022 will mark the year of the Tiger, so if you were born in 1998 you’re in luck.
This year’s WCU Chinese Lunar New Year event will take place on Feb. 1 from 7-10 p.m. in the UC Grand Room, and will offer students the chance to witness cultural performances, participate in arts and crafts, and sample traditional Asian cuisines.
As it is such a culturally significant holiday to much of the world, it is incredibly important to be respectful and educate yourself about the holiday. But the good news is, Asian cultures are very welcoming for all to celebrate the Lunar New Year with them, and the best way to learn is to participate!
If you would like to learn more about how the different regions uniquely celebrate the holiday, the attached video provides a short but in-depth look into the festivities.