Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam, and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population. While the official dates encompassing the holiday vary by culture, those celebrating consider it the time of the year to reunite with immediate and extended family.
Commonly known as the Spring Festival in China, Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day celebration marked by many traditions. At home, families decorate windows with red paper cuttings and adorn doors with couplets expressing auspicious wishes for the new year. Shopping for holiday sundries in open-air markets and cleaning the house are also beloved traditions. The Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is the highlight that kicks off the holiday, a feast with a spread of symbolic dishes, such as a whole fish representing abundance, that bring good luck and fortune. The fifteenth and final day of the holiday is the Lantern Festival, during which people have tangyuan, or sweet glutinous rice balls, and children carry lanterns around the neighborhood at night to mark the end of the celebration.
In the Chinese zodiac, 2023 is the year of the rabbit. In the Vietnamese and Gurung (Central Nepal) zodiac, the cat replaces the rabbit. In the Malay zodiac, the mousedeer replaces the rabbit. We also acknowledge that many Asian American and Pacific Islanders do not follow the Chinese/Lunar zodiac.
Enjoy our Lunar New Year digital library, which represents the richness of traditions and celebrations across cultures. Connect to your loved ones near and far with an e-card featuring an artwork from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art.