2022 Lunar New Year


The 2022 Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is coming up on Tuesday, February 1. This is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles based on the lunar or lunisolar calendar. Lunar New Year is mostly celebrated in East and Southeast Asian countries. The date also changes from year to year and starts off a new animal’s zodiac year. 

Lunar New Year is said to have originated from the Shang Dynasty which was around 1600-1046 B.C. During this period, people help sacrificial ceremonies in honor of gods and ancestors. These ceremonies occurred at the beginning or end of each year. In 104 B.C. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty approved a calendar reform that marked the beginning of the year on the day of the second new moon after the winter solstice; the first new moon after the sun enters the 11th sign of the solar zodiac. The first Lunar New Year animal is the rat, and there are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle. These animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. 

This holiday is celebrated for 15 days in the first month of the lunar calendar. With celebration comes tradition. Each country and individual household can each have different Lunar New Year traditions that involve eating specific meals, playing certain games, wearing different attire. Some common traditions though include house cleaning, offering greetings, family gathering, buying new clothes, attending a lantern festival, and giving and receiving red envelops. The red envelopes are embellished with gold and have a pocket of money on the inside and is typically gifted by older relatives. These envelopes have different names and even meanings in different countries.  

House cleaning also has significance to it. An associate professor of Chinese at the University of Delaware, Dr. Jianguo Chen, said “It is customary for people to completely clean their houses to get rid of bad fortune from the old year.” After cleaning, people typically decorate their house with red decorations to symbolize good health, fortune, wealth, prosperity, and longevity. Followed by house cleaning, people will typically leave on the first day of the Lunar New Year to go see elderly family members and have reuniting dinners, having traditional foods and meals that are served for Lunar New Year. Such foods include dumplings and rice cake soup. 

In China, the Lunar New Year ends with the Lantern Festival. This festival includes folk dancing, lantern parades, dragon and lion dances, and traditional games. During the festival, some people will also consider it something like Valentine’s Day as the flame used in lanterns can represent singles hoping to meet their flame. The Lantern Festival signified the final day of celebrations. After that day, decorations are taken down and people return to their work or studies. The lanterns themselves symbolize letting go of the past year and welcoming the new year with good fortune. The festival originated 2,000 years ago and there are many stories that describe its origin. There are also more Chinese Lantern Festivals around the world, such as the REACH Winter Lanterns held at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. This festival will be held from January 27, 2022, to February 6, 2022.  

The Lunar New Year is a very popular holiday, celebrated by a quarter of the world. Celebrating change and letting the past go is a great way to start a new year off. The celebrations are meant to take out the old year and bring luck and prosperity to the new year. Alongside this, people will honor their household, deities, and ancestors. This holiday is an incredibly important holiday to those who celebrate it!