The Lunar New Year – also commonly referred to as the Chinese New Year – is the celebration of the arrival of spring and the coming new year in the lunisolar calendar. Over 1.5 billion people around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is one of the most important holidays in China, but it is also celebrated in many other Asian countries like South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and the Philippines.
This year, the Lunar New Year falls on Sunday, January 22. The Lunar New Year is a 15-day festival with many traditions. In the days leading up to the new year, houses are cleaned to clear out any bad luck associated with the previous year. On the eve of the new year, families will gather together to enjoy a large meal. In Chinese celebrations, this dinner might include a whole chicken – to symbolize prosperity, togetherness of the family and joy – and a whole fish – to symbolize surplus, prosperity and wealth. Mandarin oranges are also a traditional treat for the new year.
Some Korean food for the Lunar New Year includes kimchi dumplings, tteokguk (rice cake soup), and yaksik (sweet rice with dried fruit and nuts). Yee sang or “The Prosperity Toss Salad” is a popular dish in Malaysia.
Many cultures will also exchange red envelopes – hóngbāo, in Chinese – filled with money with family and friends to symbolize good wishes and luck for the year ahead.
For Chinese celebrations, each new year is represented by an animal in the Chinese zodiac. There are twelve animals in the zodiac, and this year will be the Year of the Rabbit. Traditional belief says that a person’s personality and life are closely associated with their zodiac sign. People born during the Year of the Rabbit are seen as quiet, elegant, kind and responsible.
Lion dancers are an iconic part of the celebration of the Lunar New Year in China. The lion symbolizes power and is often seen as a sign of good fortune that can drive away evil. Fireworks are also used to celebrate the new year and to ward off evil.
Be sure to check out some of these Lunar New Year books from your local Yonkers Public Library branch.
Happy Lunar New Year!
Alison Robles is a part-time clerk at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for YA lit, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.