Lunar New Year 2023

Welcoming a New Year is significant to most cultures across the world. It is celebrated across the world in different ways and sometimes at different times. Lunar Year, also called the Chinese New Year is celebrated in many of our neighbouring countries and has become a stunning tourist attraction.

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Lunar New Year Meaning

As the name suggests, this is the beginning of the new year according to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar and the sighting of the first moon. It symbolizes new beginnings, a period of festivities, and a lot of different things in various East-Asian countries. Not just in Asian countries, it is a major holiday in many parts of the world especially those with Chinese populations.

Lunar New Year has many names; it is called the Spring Festival in various parts of the world, while some countries have completely different names. The festival is the time to honour family, household, ancestors and heavenly deities.

Sky Lantern

Over centuries, it has developed into an elaborate experience celebrated in varying ways across the world. Many countries celebrate the Spring Festival with a lot of pomp and unique festivities, especially South Korea, Singapore and Japan. If you’ve been planning to visit South Korea, you can attend the Korean new year festivities among other things to do!

History Behind Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year

Legend has it that this hideous dragon-lion-ox featured entity feared red colour, fire and loud noises. Tired of the havoc, the villagers made their own version of Nien out of bamboo poles, paper and red cloth, waiting for the monster to attack them before the New Year.

As soon as the real monster came, they sent their own beast accompanied by drums, loud noises, and firecrackers. Nien was chased away and since then, the Nien Dance has been performed annually every Lunar New Year.

When is Lunar New Year Celebrated?

As the dates are based on the lunar calendar, the exact dates vary slightly each year. The festival generally falls between 21 January and 20 February every year. The upcoming Lunar Year 2023 will fall on January 22, ushering in the year of Rabbit.

To be more specific, the lunar year of Water Rabbit will start January 22, 2023, and last until February 9, 2024. Compared to the solar year which lasts around 365 days, the Lunar year consists of 12 moon cycles that last 354 days.

Since it's a 15-day holiday, you can plan your international trip to attend the whole or a part of the festival. Whenever you decide to visit, make sure you buy travel insurance to avoid any financial emergencies.

Where is Lunar New Year Celebrated?

Chinese New Year Festival Dragon

While this festival is called Chinese New Year, it’s actually a lot more popular and diverse.

Other than China, it is celebrated in Hong Kong, South Korea, Vietnam, Tibet, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and many other places. Take a look at some places where the Lunar New Year is celebrated along with their names:

Country Lunar New Year Name
Vietnamese New Year Tet
Korean New Year Solnal
Tibetan New Year Losar
Indonesian New Year Tahun Baru Imlek

If you’re planning to explore the Asia Pacific and other South-east Asian countries then try to visit around these 15 days. Spring festival is an important time and you will get to experience these countries in all their glory. Don’t forget to buy international travel insurance for Asia though, it will keep you safe from tons of financial issues.

How is Lunar New Year Celebrated?

Dragon Dance Chinese New Year Celebrations

Lunar New Year is a week-long holiday in China and other countries with a major Chinese population. In Chinatowns across the world, it is a grand affair attracting a lot of locals and foreigners. The festival has a lot of traditions; from red envelopes full of money to dragon dance. We have listed a few so that you're familiar with the meaning behind these gestures:

  • Deep Cleaning

    It is considered good luck to clean your house before the new year. Most people spend a week or 10 days before the new year cleaning their house and taking out the trash. This symbolizes ‘sweeping away the bad luck’ and preparing your home to welcome good luck. They also decorate the house with red items.

  • Lai-see or Hongbao

    If you’ve seen some anime or enough East-Asian movies, you must have seen the bright red envelopes that are given to younger people on special occasions. Elders traditionally gift red envelopes full of money to children and anyone who's unmarried. If you’re visiting a Chinese friend or staying in a Chinese household during your festival stay, you can gift their kids some Lai see!

  • Firecracker Festival

    As per the legend, the half-dragon, half-lion monster 'Nien' is scared of firecrackers. It is among the oldest traditions to burn firecrackers, especially by children. However, some of the world's largest firecracker festivals take place during Lunar New Year celebrations and it is truly a spectacle to behold!

  • Lion Dance & Dragon Dance

    The Lunar New Year parade across the world is famous for its traditional dances and performances. The Lion Dance is performed by two or more people and is supposed to ward off evil spirits. The Dragon Dance is done by puppeteers who move it in a smooth, flowing motion. However, if you're attending this festival outside China then you'll find unique dances and variations. Some of the most popular ones are the Phoenix Dance, and the Fan Dance.

  • Lantern Festival

    After a festivity of 15 days, the Lunar New Year festival ends with the grand Lantern Festival. Dating back more than 2,000 years, this festival marks the end of the celebrations. The streets are decorated with traditional lanterns in beautiful colours, with riddles and special messages written on them. The festival also marks the beginning of Spring. People release lanterns in the sky, eat sweet tangyuan and enjoy the fireworks display in most countries.

Fun Fact: Chinese New Year lasts a good while and symbolizes a time for festivities, and meeting loved ones. It is so popular that it has been termed the World's largest human migration since millions of people travel across countries and cities to meet their families and loved ones. The 40-day festival is often referred to as spring migration or Chun Yun.

Lunar New Year Foods to Try

Traditional Food on Lunar New Year

Food is an absolutely important part of the festival, so you should try as many dishes as possible! Don't forget to eat Niangao, the sticky-sweet Chinese cake symbolizing a better career and position! Lucky Chinese foods are served for 15 days and each of these traditional dishes symbolizes different things. If you're a vegetarian, don't forget to try spring rolls, Chinese silver ingots, Nian Gao, tangyuan, and of course- some noodles!

Lunar New Year: Useful Tips

  • The spring festival is the busiest time of year; the Chunyun often interrupts transportation and it is almost impossible to get tickets during this time. Book all your tickets way in advance or plan your trip for the 2nd week or near the end of the festival.
  • Beijing and Hong Kong have some of the best parades and celebrations. If you want to attend these, book your stay and cabs in advance as this is an extremely crowded time.
  • Keep all your essentials handy; as shopping malls, shops and most businesses are shut. The good news is, tourist attractions, hotels and large restaurants will remain open.
  • If you can't stand crowds, come after day 7 of the Lunar new year celebrations. Streets will be less crowded, and accommodations and rentals will also cost less.
  • Don’t forget to buy international travel insurance for your trip. From delayed flights and luggage to cancelled trips or lost passports, you will always be protected from unexpected financial disasters.

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