Sun. Feb 5th, 2023

As the Year of the Tiger draws to a close, you’ll be happy to learn that the Lunar New Year begins this weekend. The rabbit is generally a symbol of optimism and peace, maybe indicating a calmer year ahead.

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One of the most significant Asian festivals, known also as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is characterized by family gatherings, dining, and giving of presents.

Additionally, the festival is now being recognized for the first time as a state holiday in California.

Here’s what you need to know about the new year holiday celebrated by more than a billion people worldwide.

WHAT TO KNOW
What does the Year of the Rabbit symbolize?
Wait — is it also the Year of the Cat?
When is Lunar New Year?
How can I celebrate the Lunar New Year?
How is California marking the Lunar New Year?
What does the Year of the Rabbit symbolize?

The Chinese zodiac system assigns each year to one of 12 animals. Legend has it that the rabbit was proud of his speed and looked down on the slower, plodding ox, but after napping on his way to the Jade Emperor’s banquet during a race with other animals,

When the rabbit arrived, the ox, tiger, and rat were already there, giving it the fourth spot in the zodiac.

The signs of this zodiac (2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951) are known for their quick wit and empathy. According to the zodiac system, they are also intelligent and appreciate introspection, making them frequently academic. In patiently pursuing their objectives, they can also be discrete, although their caution may make them less dependable.

On Friday in Thong Nhat Park in Hanoi, a kid moves approaching a monument of a cat. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock: Luong Thai Linh)
Is it also the Year of the Cat, I hear you ask?

Yes, even though the Year of the Rabbit will be celebrated in the majority of East Asian countries, Vietnam will be honoring the Year of the Cat.

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Why Vietnam’s custom is different from its neighbors’ is unknown. But compared to rabbits, cats are significantly more prevalent and popular in Vietnam. Folktales and rhymes regularly include cats, who are frequently portrayed as the companions of farmers chasing off troublesome vermin. Cats are depicted in statues and cat charms to mark the new year because they are believed to be majestic and to help ward off evil spirits.

Additionally, the year of the ox is a little different in Vietnam, where a water buffalo stands in for the animal.

Ten recipes for the Lunar New Year, including dumplings, noodles, and soup

Lunar New Year occurs when?
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Every year, a new date for the start of the new year is determined by the second new moon following the winter solstice.

Lunar New Year falls on January 22 this year.

The Lantern Festival, a time of reunions and lion dances, which will take place this year on February 5th, marks the end of the new year celebrations, which frequently continue several days.

On Saturday, kids posed for photos with red lanterns at a temple in Bangkok’s Chinatown. AFP/Getty Images/Jack Taylor )
What are some ways I can observe the Lunar New Year?
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Despite the fact that families and groups of friends may have their own unique customs, there are a few standard ways to celebrate.

Elders will give children red envelopes, or “hong bao” as they are known in Mandarin, filled with fresh bank notes as gifts. Many people display red-and-gold decorations or wear red clothing, which historically denotes fortune and success.

Fireworks are another popular kind of entertainment, and they are frequently used to ward off ill luck and evil spirits. They frequently go along with huge parades that include floats and dragon and lion costumes. Some people visit temples, have their hair cut, or meticulously clean their homes.

Feasts and food play a significant part in celebrations as well, and families frequently prepare dumplings ritualistically together. Foods can serve as symbols. Long noodles, for instance, symbolize the wish for a long life, and fish is also well-liked because the Chinese term for fish has the same sound as surplus, ensuring abundance for the coming year.

The top activities in the Washington, DC, area for the week of January 19–25

There are many ways to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit in the Washington region and throughout the nation. Saying “Gong Hei Fat Choy” in Cantonese or “Xin Nian Kuai Le” (pronounce it “shin-nyen kwai-le”) in Mandarin will help you greet your friends and coworkers a happy new year.

Lunar New Year celebrations begin in Beijing at 1:25.
Families met in Beijing for the customary Lunar New Year’s night meal on January 21 for the first time in two years sans Covid-19 restrictions. In a video, Reuters

How is the Lunar New Year being observed in California?
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California, which has one of the largest Asian American communities in the nation, will this year observe the Lunar New Year as an official state holiday for the first time.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared, “The Lunar New Year marks a chance to leave behind the difficulties of the past year and encourage prosperity and good luck moving forward.” The diversity and cultural value that Asian Americans provide to California is recognized by declaring this day a state holiday.

By Antor

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