Lunar New Year: Everything to Know About the Holiday

Lunar New Year is one of the biggest international holidays with over 1.5 billion people across the globe celebrating new beginnings. Although the holiday is commonly known as Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is celebrated by various Asian countries, regions and cultures with different traditions and customs. 

When is Lunar New Year? 

The start of the holiday is determined by the lunar calendar — the cycles of the moon’s phases — and takes place on the new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This year, Lunar New Year begins on Feb. 12, 2021 and is the Year of the Ox. 

Who celebrates Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year celebrations usually take place over multiple days; the length varies for every culture. In China, Lunar New Year is also known as Spring Festival or Chūnjié. South Korea (Seollal), Vietnam (Tết), Mongolia (Tsagaan Sar) and many other Asian countries and regions celebrate the holiday. Lunar New Year is typically celebrated with traditional foods, family gatherings, festivals and ceremonies.

What Does ‘Year of the Ox’ Mean? 

Every Lunar New Year correlates to one animal and its characteristics from the Chinese zodiac, which is a cycle of 12 years and 12 animals. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, an animal attributed as hardworking and reliable. Whether you were born in the year of the rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog or pig, those who genuinely work hard will find success this year, according to Reader’s Digest. If you were born in the year of the ox, it is said 2021 will be the time you will be rewarded for your increasing efforts. 

Will there be virtual celebrations this year? 

As the world continues to follow safety precautions to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the usual big social gatherings are on hold. However, there are online celebrations for you and the family to virtually enjoy. For example, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is offering a free Lunar New Year Virtual Celebration in partnership with the Chinese Cultural Institute and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America. It will stream video performances and Lunar New Year traditions. 

Check out books to read and movies and shows to stream for Lunar New Year 2021 below. 


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