Happy Lunar New Year! 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit. The Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture. Lunar New Year, or Spring festival, celebrates the arrival of spring and the start of a new year based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Other Asian countries also celebrate Lunar New Year, with festivals and gatherings that focus on family, faith, and local business.
Traditionally, Lunar New Year is celebrated for fifteen days and is filled with symbols of and activities to inspire good fortune and prosperity for the new year: hanging red lanterns, cleaning house, shopping in open air markets, and, of course, lighting fireworks! There are Lion Dances and Dragon Dances in the streets for people to watch. These dances are ancient ritual ceremonies that hold deep meaning for many Asian cultures; the Lion Dance dates back to 510 C.E. and the Dragon Dance dates back to 200 C.E. Performers wear huge, elaborate costumes of Lions and Dragons that make great roaring sounds, along with musicians playing drums, cymbals, and gongs. The Lion is considered a guardian creature in Buddhist tradition, and thus is seen as strong protector. The Dragon is regarded as a sacred creature and symbolizes power, courage, righteousness, and dignity; dragons represent new beginnings and blessings.
The Greater Houston area is home to many people of Asian cultures who assign great significance to the celebration of the Lunar New Year, including Houstonians from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Sydney - which has a large mainland China population. The people of each region or country have their own way of celebrating the Lunar New Year. In many areas, parents gift their children with money wrapped in red pockets or red envelopes to bless them in the new year. Red decorations and clothes ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. People go to temples to pray and have big family reunions with special dinners.
The final day of the holiday is the Lantern Festival, during which people eat tangyuan, sweet glutinous rice balls. Children carry lanterns at night to light up their neighborhoods. Firecrackers and fireworks also light up the night sky after sunset, as a way to say goodbye to the old year and to welcome in the new year!
How to say "Wishing you wealth and prosperity." :
Simplified: 恭喜发财! "Gong Xi Fa Chai" (Mandarin)
Traditional: 恭喜發財! "Gong Hei Fat Choy" (Cantonese)
Learn about and celebrate Lunar New Year 2023, Year of the Rabbit:
Check out these books from the HCPL catalog:
- Lunar New Year / Chinese New year (Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish)
- Lunar New Year / Chinese New Year (English)
- Children's books with rabbit characters (Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish)
- Children's books with rabbit characters (English)
Attend a Lunar New Year festival or celebration in your community:
- LNY Story Time at Barbara Bush Library
- LNY Celebrations at Harris County Public Library branches
- Lunar New Year Houston | PDF of schedule | Facebook page
- Asia Society Texas | Facebook page | Instagram feed
Make crafts or play games based on Lunar New Year:
Cook or try foods associated with Lunar New Year: