Image courtesy of KeatHuiTan/FlickrCC Credits: Image courtesy of KeatHuiTan/FlickrCC
Who celebrates it? A sixth of the world's population, including approximately one billion Chinese citizens celebrate the Lunar New Year.
When does it start and how long does it last? The Lunar New Year is celebrated for a total of 15 days, with various traditions and customs celebrated on each day during this period. It kicks off with the second new moon after the winter solstice and ends with the full moon that follows. From fireworks and delicious sweets to parties and nods to ancient folklore, people go all out during Lunar New Year festivities.
Chinese Zodiac. An animal is associated with each year in the zodiac, but the dragon and the rabbit are considered particularly important. Dragons are symbolic because ancient folklore states that people descended from the mythical creature. Plus, it symbolizes strength, success and luck.
Rabbits, on the other hand, are important because a Chinese moon goddess named Chang'E is said to have brought a rabbit with her when she landed on the moon. It represents hope and kindness.
Fireworks everywhere. Legend has it that a half-lion monster named Nian comes out during the Lunar New Year and frightens little children, while attacking others. However, as the story goes, Nian also has sensitive ears. This is why it's custom to light fire crackers during the Lunar New Year festivities, in order to keep Nian at bay.
Hong Kong and Beijing are famous for their Lunar New Year fireworks displays. Visitors travel from all around the world to check them out in real time.
Red for everyone. The colour red is associated with luck and prosperity, however according to Asian traditions, red is also used for protection -- this is why a lot of Lunar New Year decorations are red. Fun fact: Nian (the same half-lion monster who's scared of loud noises) is also scared of the colour red.
Celebrations around the world. The biggest Lunar New Year festivities outside of China takes place in San Francisco. There are a huge number of Chinese communities along the western coast of the States, and for some, their lineage can be traced back to the Gold Rush of the 1840s and 1850s.
Lantern Festival. A lantern festival usually marks the 15th day of celebrations. People hang bright, beautiful lanterns in their homes, ourdoors or in places of worship. These lanterns can be intricate, beautifully designed ones, but they can also be made at home, out of paper. They're mostly red in colour and they have markers on them with the Chinese characters for wealth, luck or peace.
Get inspired with delicious recipes, learn more about your Chinese zodiac and learn about feng shui techniques for the new year in our Lunar New Year special.