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Lunar New Year 2022 Is Coming! How & When To Celebrate This Year Of The Tiger

Photo: shutterstock / leungchopan
woman looking at chinese lanterns

The Lunar New Year is one of the more colorful holidays celebrated around the world.

When is Lunar New Year 2022?

The upcoming Lunar New Year of 2022 begins on Tuesday, February 1st and lasts until February 15th.

According to the Chinese zodiac (shengxiao, which means "born resembling"), each year is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals: the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

This year, 2022, will be a year of the Tiger.

What is the Lunar New Year?

The Lunar New Year is the most famous celebration in the world, celebrated as a public holiday by various Asian cultures that recognize the same start of a new year according to a lunar calendar.

The Lunar New Year is the same as the Chinese New Year, but referring to it that way can be controversial because it is not exclusive to China.

Because people of many Asian nationalities use the Lunar Calendar and celebrate the Lunar New Year, it's become preferable not to solely refer to the celebration as the Chinese New Year.

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The Lunar New Year is considered auspicious.

The Lunar New Year's spiritual meaning is one of luck and good fortune. In January, the month that often precedes the new year, many newlyweds get their Chinese zodiac compatibility and birth charts read, as the start of the new year also means the start of the new zodiac year, which can bring good or bad luck at any turn.

Where is the Lunar New Year celebrated?

Over 1.5 billion people around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Though it is often referred to as the Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year is celebrated across Asia in several countries. These include Korea (설날 Seollal), Vietnam (Tết nguyên Đán 節元旦), the Philippines, Tibet (ལོ་གསར་ Losar), Mongolia (Tsagaan Sar), Singapore, Thailand (Songkran), Malaysia and Indonesia (Imlek).

In China, the Lunar New Year is referred to as chunyun. The Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year (農曆新年 农历新年 春节), may also be called the Spring Festival because it signifies the start of a new season.

Japan used to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but now only celebrates the solar new year "with the remnants of the lunar celebration called Little New Year (小正月, koshōgatsu) occurring on the 15th day of the first lunar month."

How is the date of the Lunar New Year determined?

The Lunar New Year is different from the New Year celebrated in the United States because it falls according to a lunar rather than a solar or Gregorian calendar.

Western countries often use the Gregorian calendar; this means we base our years off of calculations based on the sun’s cycle around the Earth. By basing our months on the sun, rather than the moon’s phases, Western calendar months last 30-31 days for a total of 365 days per year, whereas as Lunar calendar months last about 29 days for a total of 354. In the Chinese Lunar calendar, a 13th month, or leap month, is added to the calendar every three years for the sake of syncing lunar and solar calendars, a method known as lunisolar timekeeping.

The Lunar New Year lasts about two weeks.

The Lunar New Year lasts from New Year's Eve until the 15th of the month, or about 16 days. While the legal holiday, only lasts for seven days, the traditional celebration begins on the New moon and lasts until the first night of the Full Moon, a period of approximately two weeks.

That said, the start of the Lunar New Year differs in some countries. For example, people in Thailand celebrate their traditional national New Year, Songkran, from April 13-15, but as of 1940, the country has considered January 1 the official New Year, while many also celebrate on the Chinese New Year.

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The Lunar New Year is considered a time to honor family and ancestors.

Similar to the New Year in Western countries, Lunar New Year is a time for family and to celebrate your ancestors, your traditions, and everything that came before you.

Oftentimes my family and I would cook together, while China’s famous TV program CCTV’s New Year’s Gala plays in the background. This program is similar to watching Anderson Cooper cover the Times Square Ball Drop on New Year’s Eve.

Around my house, there are dumplings, rice cakes, my relatives, and more importantly, lots of red. To ensure luck in the “new life,” there are many little traditions Asian families partake in both in preparation for and on the day of the Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year Traditions

1. Red decorations

The most obvious is the red decorations — we would hang red lanterns outside our house to drive out bad luck, as well as hang two-part idioms on red scrolls along the wall. These idioms might be a saying we want to live by for the year or something we want to come true.

2. Honoring ancestors

We also take the time to give respect to our ancestors. Much of Lunar New Year is about preparing for the future, but it is a time to thank your past for what it has given you.

We would often burn incense and take a moment to pray to my grandparents and everyone who has come before us. It is an incredibly comforting practice because it feels as if someone is protecting you for the coming year.

3. Reuniting with family

Gathering all of the generations together to celebrate the holiday is so important that many Chinese people return to their native villages for the reunion dinner — even if it means flying in from across the world.

4. Feasting!

What holiday is complete without a proper feast (or feasts)? The Chinese New Year is full of delicious meals, none more significant than the highly anticipated New Year's Eve dinner (also called "weilu"), which honors family ancestors.

Uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and more attend these savory events, where delicious dishes of nian gao cake, steamed rice pudding, long noodles (to ensure a long life), and dumplings (to ensure wealth) are commonly served.

It's a little-known fact that when fish is included, the Chinese make a particular point not to finish it for superstitious reasons.

5. Putting a coin in dumplings

One of the common Chinese New Year traditions involves concealing a coin in one of the dumplings and distributing them among family members. Whoever discovers the coin in his or her dumpling supposedly brings good luck to themselves for the New Year.

6. Red envelopes

In addition, older family members present children with red money packets (red represents luck in the Chinese culture), decorated with gold designs and filled with "lucky money."

7. Firecrackers

Just as fireworks are a New Year's Eve staple in Western traditions, firecrackers also make an appearance at Chinese New Year celebrations. It's said that the first person to set off a firecracker at midnight receives good luck and that the loud noises that come from the firecrackers scare off evil spirits.

8. Hanging a diamond tapestry

We will hang a diamond-shape tapestry with the Chinese character for luck on it (fu) upside down on our door.

When the luck is turned upside down, this means that it is pouring out. Not in a bad way of course, but instead, it is “pouring out” onto anyone who comes in through the house.

9. The Lantern Festival

The famous Chinese Lantern Festival (元宵节 / yuán xiāo jié) falls on the last day of the Lunar New Year.

At the event, people gather together to release lanterns into the sky. These lanterns symbolize letting go of the past and are almost always red.

On the Lunar New Year, everything feels imbued with a special meaning.

The joy surrounding the holiday not only makes me thankful for my family, but makes me believe in the possibility of my good luck.

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Jessica Xing is a writer who covers astrology, culture, and media.

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