Lunar New Year begins on Feb. 1, marking the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year that aligns with the lunisolar cycle, with the months based off of moon phases. The holiday – a celebration based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar that has continued for over 3,000 years – is considered the most important holiday in China, and is also celebrated in other Asian countries like Vietnam, South Korea, North Korea, and the Philippines.
In China, the Lunar New Year is not just celebrated for one day; the Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days culminating with the Spring Lantern Festival on the final day. Other countries celebrate the Lunar New Year differently. In South Korea, for instance, the celebrations go on for only three days.
The date for the Lunar New Year – which falls on Feb. 1 in 2022 – is different each year, and is dependent upon when the new moon falls between the end of January and the end of February. Lunar New Year includes rituals and traditions that derive from Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, as well as from ancient myths and folk religions. Different Chinese dynasties celebrated the Lunar New Year in different ways, influencing each other and adding customs and traditions to the holiday. The Lunar New Year in its current form celebrates family reunions and society, and highlights ancient spiritual traditions.
How to Celebrate
People in China typically have a week off for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which last for 15 days. Bright colors are worn to celebrate the holiday – particularly red – which is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture. The proper greeting is Gong Xi Fa Cai, a common wishing of prosperity, meaning "may you enlarge your wealth" in Mandarin, or Kung Hei Fat Choy, meaning "congratulations and be prosperous" in Cantonese.
One tradition associated with Lunar New Year is to thoroughly clean one's house to appease the gods who would be coming down from heaven to make inspections. Another tradition associated with the holiday is the giving of money by the elders to the children in small red envelopes, which are meant to be lucky. Food and paper sacrifices are also offered to ancestors. Large celebrations often include firecrackers, and the climax of Lunar New Year is the stunning Spring Lantern Festival, which honors ancestors on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. During the festival, houses are decorated with colorful lanterns, and the celebration is meant to promote reconciliation, peace and forgiveness.
What to Watch
A.frame and Academy members from the Asian Affinity Group selected a list of films to mark this year’s celebration. You’ll find films like Yellow Rose, Minari, Children of Invention, The Farewell, Chungking Express and more. Please click here for a full list.
This Year's Zodiac Sign
2022 is the year of the Tiger. The tiger is known as the king of all beasts in China, and the zodiac is associated with strength, exorcising evils, and bravery.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, since the year of the Tiger is under the influence of the water element, it will be a year during which people will have to be prepared for all kinds of changes in their lives. At the same time, the water element represents wealth; therefore, the new Chinese year will bring abundance and prosperity.
Astrologer and tarot card reader Susan Levitt tells Reader's Digest that tigers are quick to action, meaning that one should be prepared for situations to change suddenly in the Year of the Tiger, whether it comes to personal relationships, career developments, or even political unrest or social revolution. "Tempers flare, drama and excitement reign, and crazy dreams can become reality," she says.
Call to Action: Donate
Asian Youth Center (AYC): Asian Youth Center (AYC) is a community-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization whose mission is to empower low-income, immigrant, and at-risk youth, of all communities, to overcome barriers to success through the provision of culturally and linguistically competent education, employment, and social services.
Chinese American Museum (CAM): Cultural philanthropy is vital to the growth and development of CAM. Your on-going donations are crucial to sustaining a future filled with learning and enjoyment opportunities that encourage and promote a greater shared knowledge about our nation’s cultural past.
Stop AAPI Hate: In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the AAPI Equity Alliance (AAPI Equity), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate coalition on March 19, 2020. The coalition tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. Their approach recognizes that in order to effectively address anti-Asian racism we must work to end all forms of structural racism leveled at Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.