Celebrating Lunar (Chinese) New Year

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January 30, 2022

A woman holding lucky red envelopes for Chinese New Year.Lunar or Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide, but especially in China and surrounding Asian countries. This important festival has been celebrated in China for over 2000 years, spreading to the other countries as did Chinese culture and language during that time. It is referred to by other names depending on the region and language; Spring Festival or Chnjié (China), Tết (Vietnam), Seollal (Korea), Tsagaan Sar (Mongolia) and many more.


This holiday is celebrated in late January or February, based on the lunar calendar. This is an ancient calendar system that is still used in many cultures today. Arabic and Hebrew calendars use a lunar calendar for tracking their own holidays and even the Christian holiday of Easter is calculated by the moon. For Lunar New Year, it starts with the second new moon after the winter solstice (December 21st on the Gregorian calendar) and the celebration continues until the full moon. This year (2022), it is celebrated from February 1st to February 15th.

Each year is assigned to one of twelve animals in the zodiac, and people born under that sign are said to share traits with that animal. 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, who's traits are courage, leadership and assertiveness. But there is an additional complexity added with the addition of the 5 natural elements being assigned as well. So this makes 2022 the Year of the Water Tiger, adding flexibility and family connections as additional traits. These are assigned on a 60 year cycle. The last Water Tiger was in 1962 and the next one will be in 2082.


Here is a list of the next 12 years and the associated animals and elements:

  • Tiger (Water)
  • 2023 - Rabbit or Cat (Water)
  • 2024 - Dragon (Wood)
  • 2025 - Snake (Wood)
  • 2026 - Horse (Fire)
  • 2027 - Goat (Fire)
  • 2028 - Monkey (Earth)
  • 2029 - Rooster (Earth)
  • 2030 - Dog (Metal)
  • 2031 - Pig (Metal)
  • 2032 - Rat (Water)
  • 2033 - Ox or Buffalo (Water)
  • 2034 - Tiger (Wood)

Lunar New Year is described as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year all combined together. It is a celebration of the coming of spring and warm weather, focusing on family, honoring ancestors and prosperity for the new year. Some common traditions are to clean the house thoroughly before the celebration to sweep away the old to leave room for good luck. People buy new clothing to wear and give money gifts in bright red paper envelopes. Clothing and decorations are often in red and colorful lanterns and fireworks add light to the dark winter nights.


Special traditional foods are prepared to bring good luck, like dumplings, noodles or sweets. And there is usually a Lantern Festival for the full moon at the end of the holiday, even in the U.S. if you live in an area with a Chinatown or Little Saigon.

Have you ever celebrated Lunar or Chinese New Year? Please share your experiences with us too.

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I made this last year out of a branch that was in my yard. I made the flowers with crepe paper and floral tape. These flowers are called Mai flowers. They only bloom once a year in spring.


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February 3, 2011

Here is a picture of the entry way to my sister's apartment building at the Hong Kong International School. Vibrant decorations are everywhere throughout the city.


It is the most important holiday for most of this part of the world.

Flowers for Lunar New Year


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Chinese New Year 2014, taken in Liverpool England. A beautifully sunny day for the time of year which was a big bonus considering the extreme weather we have been having recently

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Sticky rice cakes are typically sold around Chinese New Year, but using the recipe on this page you can make your own anytime.

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This easy to make wreath is the perfect decoration to celebrate Chinese New Year. Make one for yourself using a pre-made wreath, artificial flowers, and some lucky red envelopes.

Chinese New Year Wreath - wreath hanging on door

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Our family loves to eat banh tet, which is a Vietnamese savory sticky rice cake eaten during the Lunar New Year (Tet Nguyen Dan) but can be found sold year-round if you have a Vietnamese market in your community.

A plate of fried banh tet.

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