Chinese New Year 2023: Year of the Water Rabbit
Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) is right around the corner! It is the most important festival in China and a major event in many other Asian countries. This article will tell you everything you need to know about it.
When is Chinese New Year 2023?
In 2023, Chinese New Year (called Spring Festival in China) is celebrated on Sunday, January 22. This festival is always tied to the date of the New Moon in China.
When does Chinese New Year start?
Lunar New Year is traditionally celebrated by the Chinese on the second New Moon after the winter solstice. This year, such a New Moon will occur on January 21 at 20:53 GMT. Due to the difference in time zones, in China, it will occur on January 22 at 04:53. As China Standard Time is the reference point for Chinese New Year, the world will celebrate this festival on January 22.
When does Chinese New Year end?
The Lunar New Year celebrations end on the day of the Chinese Lantern Festival. In 2023, it will fall on February 5. The Lantern Festival marks the first Full Moon of the new lunar year, which will occur on February 5 at 18:29 GMT.
2023 is a year of what animal?
Each year in the Chinese lunar calendar is represented by a particular animal: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, more precisely — the Water Rabbit. People born this year are supposed to be quiet, calm, and have a strong memory.
Why is Chinese New Year different every year?
Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, but it always occurs at the New Moon between January 21 and February 20.
Why does the holiday’s date always change? While in Western countries, the Gregorian solar calendar is used to mark the traditional holidays, Chinese people use their own lunisolar calendar with an occasional extra month.
Chinese lunar calendar: how does it work?
Although the traditional Chinese calendar is often referred to as a lunar calendar, it is, in fact, a hybrid of lunar and solar calendars. It means that it takes into account both the Moon’s orbit around the Earth and the Earth’s orbit around the Sun.
In the Chinese calendar, the synodic month is used. It is the period the Moon takes to revolve around the Earth once relative to the Sun. The synodic month lasts from the New Moon to the next New Moon and equals 29.53 days. If you multiply this number by 12 months, you’ll get 354 days per year, which is 11 days less than it takes our planet to revolve around the Sun.
The Chinese wanted to fix this inconsistency and synchronize their calendar with the Earth’s movement around the Sun. So once every three years, a 13th month is added to the Chinese calendar. This “leap month” is the reason why Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year in the Gregorian calendar.
How long is Chinese New Year 2023?
In 2023, Chinese New Year celebrations will last for 16 days. They will start with New Year’s Eve on January 21 and end with the Lantern Festival on February 5 — just before the Full Moon (called the Snow Moon in Western cultures). You can learn more about traditional Full Moon names from our infographic. Although Chinese New Year is celebrated for more than two weeks, only the first seven days (from January 21 to January 27) are considered a public holiday.
Chinese New Year dates 2023–2034
Here is a calendar with the dates of Chinese New Year for the upcoming 12-year cycle. In brackets, you can see animal signs for each year.
- 2023: January 22 (Rabbit)
- 2024: February 10 (Dragon)
- 2025: January 29 (Snake)
- 2026: February 17 (Horse)
- 2027: February 6 (Goat)
- 2028: January 26 (Monkey)
- 2029: February 13 (Rooster)
- 2030: February 3 (Dog)
- 2031: January 23 (Pig)
- 2032: February 11 (Rat)
- 2033: January 31 (Ox)
- 2034: February 19 (Tiger)
Chinese New Year celebration
The Lunar New Year based on the traditional Chinese calendar is observed not only in China — it is a very important festival for millions of people in other Asian countries. All of them have their own traditions for celebrating this holiday. Chinese New Year and Lunar New Years in other countries can occasionally fall on different dates due to time zones.
What countries celebrate Lunar New Year?
Apart from China, where it’s a national holiday, Lunar New Year is celebrated in countries that either use a similar lunar calendar or have a considerable Chinese population. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of such countries (in brackets, you’ll see the local name of the festival):
- China (Chunjie);
- Korea (Seollal);
- Vietnam (Tet);
- Malaysia (Kongsi Raya);
- Indonesia (Tahun Baru Imlek);
- Mongolia (Tsagaan Sar);
- Tibet (Losar).
How to celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year celebrations commonly feature putting up red decorations in your home, setting off firecrackers and fireworks, watching lion and dragon dances in the street, and eating jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) with your family. Not many people know that the Chinese also have traditional “instructions” on how to behave on each of the 16 days of the New Year festival. Here they are:
- January 21: family reunion dinner, staying up until midnight;
- January 22: visiting relatives, attending ancestor graves;
- January 23: married women visit their parents with their husbands and children;
- January 24: staying at home with the family and playing games;
- January 25: praying and going to temples;
- January 26: breaking taboos from previous days (such as doing needlework and getting your hair cut);
- January 27: getting rid of old and unwanted things;
- January 28: going out to nature;
- January 29: having another family reunion dinner;
- January 30: lighting incense in honor of the mythical Jade Emperor;
- January 31: celebrating the “birth of stone” (the birth of all things) by not moving anything made of stone;
- February 1: fathers invite their sons-in-law over;
- February 2–4: cooking and making lanterns as a preparation for the Lantern Festival;
- February 5: lighting lanterns, answering the riddles written on them, watching dragon dances, and eating the traditional dessert called tangyuan.
Facts about Chinese New Year
Here are a few interesting facts about Chinese New Year that you probably didn’t know about.
- Firecrackers were traditionally used during the festival to scare away evil spirits. The color red was partly used for the same purpose.
- Lunar New Year in China causes the largest migration in the world. Millions of Chinese travel from big cities to rural villages to visit their parents. There’s even a special word for this phenomenon — 春运 (chunyun or “spring migration”).
- Single young people in China sometimes rent fake partners for Lunar New Year. They do it to appease parents and relatives.
- You’re not allowed to shower, sweep the floor, or throw out garbage on New Year’s Day. It’s considered bad luck.
- Chinese kids receive red envelopes with money inside during the holiday. In the modern age, there are digital red envelopes too.
- The Chinese believe the year of your zodiac animal is the unluckiest for you. So good luck to all the Rabbits in 2023!
Chinese New Year falls on January 22, 2023, and marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. It corresponds with the day of the New Moon in China. During this festival, people decorate their homes, set off fireworks, watch dragon dances, and eat jiaozi (Chinese dumplings).
We wish you clear skies and a happy Chinese New Year!