The event is mainly celebrated in China but it is also very popular in other countries influenced by Chinese culture such as: Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Philippines and Indonesia.
Lunar New Year is synonymous with colourful celebrations, street parties and activities to welcome a new year and wish people luck and prosperity.
The annual festival is often associated with the well known festivities of Chinese New Year but although the two events are heavily intertwined and closely related they are not quite the same thing.
But what is Lunar New Year and when is it celebrated?
Here is everything you need to know.
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year in East and Southeast Asian cultures. The Lunar New Year celebrations usually take place over multiple days rather than just one day as we see with the Gregorian Calendar.
This year’s tradition will see Asian communities around the world say goodbye to the Year of the Tiger and usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
Lunar New Year symbolises reunion and rebirth, marking the end of winter and the start of spring. According to one legend, a monster would emerge from the Earth at the start of every year and eat villagers. However, the beast, Nian (Chinese for year) was afraid of bright lights, loud noises and the colour red and they were used to ultimately exile the beast.
When was Lunar New Year 2023?
Lunar New Year falls on a different day on the traditional calendar every year. This year Lunar New Eve is Saturday 21 January while Lunar New Year takes place on Sunday 22 January.
The celebrations for the event usually begin the weekend before Lunar New Year and run for several days afterwards.
The Lantern Festival is held to mark the end of the New Year season. In 2023, this falls on Sunday 5 February.
How is the Lunar New Year celebrated?
Red and gold are associated with good fortune throughout the Asian community.
Therefore it is seen as a custom for people to wear these two colours when engaging in the festivities. Children often receive red envelopes with money, while families hold feasts, clean their homes and visit shrines of deceased relatives.
Different countries have slightly different traditions, in Korea it is common for people to dine on rice and cake soup aswell as savoury pancakes.
Meanwhile in Vitetnam is common for people to eat special foods such as braised pork with duck eggs.
What is the difference between Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year?
The Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are viewed as very similar events and they are closely related.
Chinese New Year is used to refer to the new year event itself meanwhile Lunar New Year is a general term used to reference all the celebrations that take place during that period.
The two events are both based on complete cycles of phases of the moon. The Chinese calendar is lunisolar and an ordinary year has 353-355 days.
A 13th leap month takes place every three years which consists of 383-385 days.