More than 1 billion people around the world will be celebrating the Lunar New Year on Tuesday.
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More commonly referred to as Chinese New Year, the celebration traditionally includes family reunions and huge feasts. However, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, families have had to find other ways to honor the incoming year.
What is the Lunar New Year and what will people be doing to celebrate it? Here’s a look at the Lunar New Year.
What is the Lunar New Year?
There are a lot of backstories that explain the origins of the Lunar New Year, but one of the most often told involves a beast, human victims and the color red.
According to the legend, a beast called Nian roamed the land hundreds of years ago, coming to villages each spring looking for people to attack.
Villagers discovered that the monster was scared away by loud noises and, for some reason, the color red. In an effort to keep Nian at bay, villagers began to use firecrackers and red paper to frighten him off.
The yearly efforts to keep Nian away eventually grew into a spring festival that celebrated the villagers’ hopes for a good harvest and a good new year. While there are religious elements to the festivities, it is largely a secular celebration.
Food is central to the celebration and is often offered on altars to honor ancestors. According to history.com, “Among Chinese cultures, fish is typically included as a last course of a New Year’s Eve meal for good luck. … Chinese New Year’s meals also feature foods like glutinous rice ball soup, moon-shaped rice cakes (New Year’s cake) and dumplings (Jiǎozi in Mandarin). Sometimes, a clean coin is tucked inside a dumpling for good luck.”
When is Lunar New Year?
The date of the Lunar New Year is determined by the phases of the moon. The holiday begins during the second new moon after the winter solstice. This year, Lunar New Year’s Eve is on Jan. 31, and the New Year begins on Feb. 1.
What does Year of the Tiger mean?
Each Lunar New Year is assigned an animal representative. There is a 12-year cycle with the animals chosen from the Chinese zodiac system.
The zodiac animal is a tiger for the year 2022. According to chinesenewyear.net, people born in years of the Tiger “are fiercely independent and possess strong self-esteem. They like to act alone and are not very gregarious. They are most likely optimistic and enthusiastic by nature, and always seem to have endless energy, especially at work. Their energetic presence and intense eyes are the greatest charm of Tiger natives. Their vitality is apparent to anyone at a glance, and people are instinctively drawn to this larger than life quality in them.”
The website goes on to say that “Tigers are lively and cheerful, and they love freedom and independence. They are a zodiac sign that absolutely must have their personal space. Tigers usually have a keen sense of justice. When faced with injustices, whether against themselves or others, you can be sure Tigers will not stand aside. However, Tigers may also appear unrefined or thoughtless in the way they handle things. In a less developed person, these traits can easily turn into ignorance or foolhardiness.”
Previous years of the tiger included 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, and 1962.
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