Lunar New Year is around the corner and by the end of the month Chinese and several other Asian countries together with their communities from all around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year. Celebrations take many forms including fireworks, festivities, family get togethers, special food, and various cultural rituals.

Lunar New Year is an important holiday for Chinese people. It is a tradition that dates back to over 3000 years. In this post, I share with you some key facts about the Lunar New Year together with links and resources to use with your students in class to teach them about this amazing tradition.

What is the Lunar New Year? 

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, is one the most popular festivals in China and other Asian countries as well as among Chinese communities all around the globe. Lunar New Year celebrations last for two weeks during which families and friends get together and have special meals. Celebrations also include fireworks, parades, outdoor parties, and various cultural rituals. Chinese New Year is known in Mandarin as Chūnjié, in Vietnamese as Tết and in Koreans as Seollal.

What countries celebrate the Lunar New Year? 

Several countries celebrate Lunar New Year including East Asian countries (e.g., China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam), and South East Asian countries (e.g., Singapore, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia). Chinese communities in places all over the world celebrate Lunar New Year with festivities and parties.

When is the Lunar New Year 2023? 

Lunar New Year falls on a date that ranges between January 21 and February 20. This year, 2023, Lunar New Year falls on Sunday, January 22nd, and ‘celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 5th, 2023.’ . While celebrations last for 16 days, only the first week (January 22nd-January 29th, 2023) is considered a public holiday.

Chinese New Year dates back to about 3500 years. It is based on the lunar (or lunisolar) calendar whose months are determined by sun and moon cycles. A lunar month starts with every new moon “when the moon is not visible in the night sky. The new year starts on the new moon nearest the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, sometime between January 21 and February 20.”(National Geographic). It is important to note here that China did not officially adopt the Gregorian calendar used in the West till 1912 (NG).

What is the Difference between Chinese Calendar and Gregorian Calendar used in the West? 

The Gregorian calendar adopted in the West is a solar calendar, that is, its time is based on the Earth’s movement around the sun. Each of its months has the same number of days from year to year, except during a leap year. The Chinese calendar, on the other hand, is lunisolar. Its dates are based on the moon’s movement around the Earth combined with the Earth’s movement around the sun. The Chinese calendar has been used for thousands of years by farmers to determine the best seasons to plant and harvest crops which is why it is also called ‘agricultural calendar’ .

1. Lunar New Year: Britannica
2. Lunar New Year, Wikipedia
3. History of Chinese New Year, Wake Forest University
4. Lunar New Year, National Geographic
5. Lunar New Year,
6. Lunar New Year: Origins, Customs Explained, University of California
10. The Chinese Calendar, South China Morning Post
11. Chinese Zodiac, Chinese New Year