15 Facts You Need to Know About Lunar New Year

Food, customs, and other traditions of the Lunar New Year

1. Lunar New Year can be traced back 3,500 years ago

The festival is also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival

2. The date of the Lunar New Year is determined by the lunar calendar

The holiday is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice, The annual celebration marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring – representing the desire for a new life.

3. 2023 is the year of the rabbit

The last year of the rabbit was celebrated in 2011.

4. The most popular Lunar New Year legend is about the mythical beast Nian

Nian would eat livestock, crops, and often people on the eve of the new year. To prevent the beast from attacking, people placed food outside their doors as an offering.

According to the legend, an old man discovered Nian was scared of loud noises and the color red. People responded by putting red lanterns and red scrolls on their windows and doors to prevent Nian from coming inside

5. In ancient China, Lunar New Year was a time to celebrate the harvest, worship the gods, and ask for good future harvests

Many families worship the God of Wealth named Tsai Shen in the early morning, by offering incense and inviting the god into their homes

6. In 1949, the Chinese Communist Party outlawed the celebration of the traditional Chinese New Year

Instead, the new year was celebrated on January 1st, following the Gregorian calendar.

In 1996, China appointed a weeklong vacation during Lunar New Year to give people the opportunity to travel home for the celebration.

7. In China, fish is included in the last course of New Year’s Eve to represent surplus or abundance

Other featured foods include rice ball soup, New Year’s cake, and dumplings.

8. In Vietnam, families decorate their homes with kumquat trees and flowers

Popular flowers include peach blossoms, chrysanthemums, orchids, and red gladiolas.

9. One popular tradition when preparing for New Year’s is the sending off of the Kitchen God

On the 23rd day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar, the Kitchen God departs to deliver a report on the household’s activities to the Jade Emperor.

The Jade emperor will decide to bless or punish the family in the New Year.

10. Offering sacrifices to the ancestors is one of the most important customs of the holiday

Families show respect and piety to their ancestors.

The spirits are believed to protect their descendants and bless them with luck in the upcoming year.

11. In South Korea, Lunar New Year is a three-day festival that is centered on family reunions, food, and worshiping ancestors

Many Koreans wear hanbok, traditional Korean clothing, during the celebration.

12. In Vietnam, the three-day holiday is often celebrated over the course of several weeks

Traditional Tawainese New Year’s food includes salad rolls, sticky rice, spring rolls, and bamboo shoot soup.

13. There are several ways to greet one another during the Lunar New Year

In Mandarin, Xīnnián hǎo (Good New Year) or Xīnnián kuàile (Happy New Year).

In Vietnam, Chúc mừng năm mới (Happy New Year!).

In Seoul, South Korea, Saehae bok mani badeuseyo (May you receive lots of luck in the new year).

In North Korea, Saehaereul chuckhahabnida (Congratulations on the new year)

14. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year

The festival signals the end of the New Year festival.

Customary activities include eating tangyuan, admiring colorful paper lanterns, and working through lantern riddles.

15. There are several unlucky activities people will avoid during the celebration

Sweeping the floor is forbidden on the first day.

Avoiding the number four because it sounds similar to the word for death.

Avoiding washing hair or getting a haircut.

Ready to celebrate Lunar New Year with your family?

Click the buttons or visit Parkland Community Library for book suggestions, activities, and more for 2023’s Lunar New Year celebration.