The year of the rabbit: Everything you need to know about Chinese New Year

The year of the rabbit: Everything you need to know about Chinese New Year

Updated: 10 days, 9 hours, 24 minutes, 26 seconds ago

Image - wong yu liang/shutterstock

People around the world are preparing for the year of the rabbit, as the year of the tiger comes to an end today, January 22. But what does this year’s zodiac animal mean and how is Chinese New Year celebrated?

The Lunar Year, otherwise called Chinese New Year, is celebrated over multiple days and is the beginning of the coming year on the traditional lunisolar calendar. Many people of Chinese heritage celebrate the new year, in addition to other countries across Asia, including South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

This year’s zodiac animal is the rabbit, seen as a symbol of strength, braveness and exorcising evils. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the zodiac sequence, made up of 12 animals, and is considered to be one of the luckiest. In Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon. Some say it is because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.

People born in the year of the rabbit are thought to be witty, quick-minded vigilant and ingenious. The animal is also thought to symbolise beauty, elegance and mercy, according to the official Chinese New Year website.

According to the Chinese five-element theory, each zodiac sign is thought to possess one of the five elements – metal, wood, water, fire or earth. The elements rotate for each year of the sign, this means they come around every 60 years. This year is the Water Rabbit, which hasn’t been in place since 1963 and, before that, back in 1903.

For the rabbit zodiac, there are five types each with different characteristics. These are:

Water Rabbit: Gentle and amicable, but has a weak mindset Wood Rabbit: Clever and quick-witted, but selfish Fire Rabbit: Broad-minded, smart and flexible Earth Rabbit: Straightforward, ambitious and hard-working Metal Rabbit: Kind-hearted, lively and enthusiastic

Chinese New Year is one of the most important times in the calendar, with the Lunar New Year kicking off 15 days of celebrations in China and among Chinese communities around the world. People in China even get seven consecutive days off to celebrate the occasion, and there are a number of traditions that take place during this period.

First is the Lion’s Dance, where performers mimic a lion’s movement and wear a costume that looks like the animal. For the Chinese, the lions symbolises power, wisdom, and superiority. Dancing to the sound of a gong, symbols and the beating of a drum, this is thought to ward off evil spirits and welcome the lion in to bring good fortune.

In many areas, the dragon dance is the highlight of the celebrations and a symbol of good fortune.

Other traditions include eating specially prepared foods on certain days and thoroughly cleaning the home to rid it of bad luck.

Many people eat dumplings, which symbolise wealth, as well as sweet rice balls which are a symbol of family togetherness.

The final event of the celebrations is the magnificent lantern festival, which is admired by people all over the world and involves the hanging of glowing lanterns that people also carry during parades.

People will also light candles while praying in temples and there will be firework displays that feature Datiehua folk art – which sees burning hot iron water sprayed to form a display of fireworks.

Chinese New Year celebrations last up to 16 days, but only the first 7 days are considered a public holiday (January 22nd–January 29th, 2023).

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