Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a festival typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries that begin with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The cycles of the moon determine the lunar calendar therefore, dates of the holiday differ from one year to another, beginning sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. This as well is the celebration of warmer weather and new growth.
The Lunar New Year festival has been celebrated for thousands of years and is filled with legends. One of the legends states that Nian, a hideous beast was believed to feast on human flesh New Year’s Day. Since Nian was afraid of the colour red, loud noises and fire, red paper decorations were pasted to doors, lanterns were burned all night, and firecrackers were lit to frighten the beast away. These have now become a tradition during Chinese New Year, with red decorations being put up and fireworks and firecrackers used to celebrate the new year
There are frequent Dances and fireworks throughout the holidays, and celebrations can last up to 16 days. The Lantern Festival is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night colourful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served.
This Lunar new year falls on 22 January, and this is the year of the rabbit for most, but in Vietnam, it is the Year of the Cat.
The Year of The Rabbit
2023 is the year of the Rabbit for most celebrating Lunar New Year, which is the fourth of all zodiac animals. Legend has it that the rabbit was proud and arrogant even of its speed. He always made fun of the Ox, his neighbour, of his slow speed. One day, the Jade Emperor said the zodiac order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived at his party. The rabbit started off at daybreak and arrived early but got no other animals in sight. He anticipated that he would be first and went off to the side and napped. However, when he woke up, three other animals had already arrived, one of them being the Ox he had always looked down upon.
In Chinese culture, rabbits represent the moon. Some say it’s because the shadows of the moon resemble a rabbit. Others say it is because of the rabbit’s pure characteristics.
Lunar New year celebrations in Manchester
Manchester offers a variety of activities during this Lunar year. This year’s celebrations will take place from 22 January to 29 January in Piccadilly Manchester and Chinatown.
Some of the activities this year include the legendary Dragon Parade, stalls, live performances, a funfair, and Manchester’s famous red lanterns.
Find out more about what happens during the Chinese New Year festivities in Manchester.
In terms of food, there are a variety of different restaurants in Chinatown in Manchester including Happy Seasons, Hunan and Little Yang Sing. It is the second-largest Chinatown in the UK, and it has lots of cafes, restaurants and shops selling food and goods from China, Nepal, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
We wish all of these celebrating a Happy Lunar New Year!