February may be the shortest month of the year, but it also feels like the busiest. This year, the month will start in grand fashion – with the celebration of Lunar New Year 2022 falling on February 1.
Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year are one and the same, but the former is also celebrated in other Asian countries.
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a calendar year that bases its months on moon cycles. The tradition dates as far back as the 14th century BC, when the Shang Dynasty was in power, and typically lands some time between the end of January and mid-February.
Last year, Lunar New Year fell on February 12.
However, it’s worth noting that Lunar New Year isn’t a one-day affair, it’s an action-packed holiday celebrated over 15 days. During this time, houses are cleaned, decorations put up, feasts and family dinners organised, debts cleared and firecrackers let off. There are also commonly parades and other festivities to watch or be a part of.
In China, there are certain dishes that are eaten specifically with the intention of bringing luck and prosperity to the coming year – from longevity noodles to Peking duck.
The celebrations usually culminate on the date of the full moon with a lantern festival, also known as the Shangyuan Festival.
It’s celebrated in many countries – not only China
Within China, the Lunar New Year is synonymous with Chinese New Year or Spring Festival.
However, many neighbouring countries in Asia have developed their own New Year celebrations, influenced by the Chinese calendar.
For example, Vietnam celebrates Tet Nguyen Dan, also known as Tet; while Korea celebrates Seollal, which lasts for three days instead of 15.
In Mongolia, the Lunar New Year is also called Tsagaan Sar, and is usually the first celebration of the year. In Indonesia, Chinese New Year is known as Imlek and has become a popular holiday.
Tibet’s New Year celebrations, known as the Losar Festival, are usually not held on the same date as China’s Lunar New Year (although it isn’t usually far off). This year, Losar begins on March 3.
Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines also mark the occasion at the same time as Chinese New Year, as do many other countries that have a high number of Chinese residents.
Which animal is associated with this year?
Each Chinese New Year is associated with an animal according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar, which features 12 animals including the ox (2021’s animal), rat, dragon, horse, monkey and rooster.
This year is the Year of the Tiger. The calendar is based on a 12-year cycle, with the last Tiger year falling in 2010. According to superstition, those born during the Year of the Tiger are brave, competitive and strong.