Happy Lunar New Year! All You Need to Know About The Year of the Tiger

Happy Lunar New Year! All You Need to Know About The Year of the Tiger

Happy Lunar New Year! All You Need to Know About The Year of the Tiger

The multi-day holiday is celebrated by billions of people across the world.

The multi-day holiday is celebrated by billions of people across the world.

Text: Matthew Velasco

A symbol of rebirth and reunion, the Lunar New Year — also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Holiday — celebrates both the beginning of a new year and marks the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Celebrated by more than 2 billion people throughout China and the Asian diaspora, the Lunar New Year is a time for celebration, hope, and togetherness. While the Lunar New Year is mostly a secular holiday, celebrations do draw elements from Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.

Lunar New Year Celebrations in Shanghai, China.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has halted certain celebrations, the Lunar New Year is set to be celebrated across the globe both physically and virtually. This year's Zodiac — the tiger — symbolizes hope and bravery and is seen by many as an optimistic signal for the future of the pandemic.

When is the Lunar New Year?

Unlike the Gregorian calendar which marks January 1st as the beginning of the New Year, many Asian cultures utilize a lunar, rather than solar, calendar. The multi-day celebration follows the moon's 12 phases and occurs on the second new moon after the Winter solstice, beginning on a different day each year.

In 2022, the Lunar New Year begins on Tuesday, February 1st and will continue until February 15th with the staging of the traditional Lantern Festival. Marking the end of the New Year season, the festival occurs on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese Calendar.

This year, the Lantern Festival falls on February 15th and will be celebrated with the flying of paper lanterns and the eating of turnip cakes and traditional Chinese deserts. Though celebrations continue for 16 days, only the first 7 days are considered a public holiday (Jan. 31st - Feb. 7.)

What is the 2022 Chinese Zodiac?

The Chinese calendar not only follows the moon's 12 phases, but each month also corresponds with one of a dozen animals — the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Celebrations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania's Chinatown.

This year's animal — the tiger — represents bravery, courage, strength, and wisdom. This is also the first time the tiger has coincided with the Lunar New Year since 2010. In Asian culture, the tiger is considered the king of the jungle and those born in the year of the tiger are often leaders, brave, and demand attention.

How is Lunar New Year Celebrated?

The Lunar New Year is not only a time to celebrate the beginning of the calendar year, but also serves as a time to honor ancestors, deities, and participate in street parades and festivals. Though the Lunar New Year is most widely celebrated in China, there are festivals and parades worldwide.

From fireworks to ward off evils spirits to lion and dragon dances, there are a bevy of beloved Lunar New Year traditions. Red envelopes stuffed with money — 'hong bao' in Mandarin — are give by elders to young children as gifts and are meant to symbolize good luck and prosperity for the year ahead. Representing luck and fortune, red and gold are strewn throughout the holiday's colorful celebrations and decorations. Food also plays an important factor in the holiday, with many families preparing dumplings, fish, and long noodles — the latter of which represents hope for a long life.

Celebrations in Shanghai, China.

Coinciding with the Lunar New Year, Beijing, China is set to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games — starting on February 4th — in what will be a celebratory and triumphant period for the nation. To wish neighbors, friends, or coworkers a Happy Lunar New Year, try saying “Gong Hei Fat Choy (恭喜發財)” in Cantonese or “Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (新年快乐)” in Mandarin.

Credits: Images Courtesy of Getty Images.

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