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Global Celebrations and Awareness: Chinese New Year

This is part of a series of articles we will share to help our audience become better informed about diverse holidays and celebrations happening across the globe throughout the year.

Celebration of the Lunar New Year, also referred to as the Chinese New Year, started on the evening of January 21st in 2023 and will conclude with a lantern festival in February. The Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays and celebrations in Chinese culture and is celebrated in some capacity by 50+ ethnic groups in the region.

Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year is also celebrated in many countries with significant Chinese populations, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, the Philippines, Oceania, Australia, Europe, and North America.

History of Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year has roots in agriculture in China dating back to 3000 BCE, as this time of year was traditionally the period when farmers could take a break from working in the field. In fact, China’s calendar is closely linked to agriculture production cycles.

What does Chinese New Year celebrate?

  • Introspection around the previous year

  • New beginnings and starting with a clean slate

  • The end of winter and the beginning of spring

  • 2023 is the year of the rabbit, which symbolizes courage, kindness, and good fortune

How is the holiday celebrated?

Specific traditions vary from region to region and household to household, but these are some of the more common traditions:

  • Cleaning the house to rid any lingering bad luck

  • Gathering with extended family

  • A dinner feast and party on New Year’s Eve

  • Visiting temples to pray

  • Staying up late on New Year’s Eve

  • Worshiping deities

  • Firecrackers and fireworks

  • Red clothes and decorations

  • Giving money in red envelopes to children and young people

  • Honoring relatives and ancestors who have passed

  • Lantern festivals

  • Parades with costumes and dragon dances

  • Open air markets and celebrations

  • In China, the new year holiday is a national public holiday that offers citizens a full 7 days off of work to celebrate

How can you celebrate Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year in the workplace?

  1. Make a traditional Chinese New Year food dish as a group activity (this can be virtual or in person). Dumplings are traditionally known as a lucky food that brings wealth and prosperity due to similarity of their shape to Chinese ingots (ingots were used in ancient China as money).

  2. Explore and learn about the Lunar New Year and Chinese culture. Lunar New Year is one of the oldest and widely celebrated holidays. You can focus on learning about the art, culture, mythology, traditions, or history of the holiday by gathering targeted resources and sharing them with your team.

  3. Host a Chinese Tea Tasting. Tea and tea ceremonies are important in Chinese culture, so this holiday is a great opportunity to try different kinds of teas and learn more about their use in Chinese culture.

  4. Give out red envelopes (filled with cash or gift cards). Red is a lucky color that represents success, good fortune, and happiness, and giving red envelopes filled with cash is an important tradition of the Lunar New Year holiday.

  5. Learn how to play mahjong as a great group bonding activity.

Check out these resources for more information on Chinese New Year, the history of the holiday, and how to celebrate.

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