Lunar New Year starts on January 22, 2023 (Credit: Linnaea Mallette/ CC-By-SA 2.0/

On January 22, 2023, over 1.6 billion people of Asian descent worldwide will celebrate the first day of the Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year. In China, the festivities last for two weeks and include many fun customs and traditions. Millions of city dwellers head home to spend the important festival with friends and family. The spring travel rush, or Chunyun, results in the world’s largest seasonal human migration.

This year's celebrations will start with a "Reunion Dinner" on January 21, 2023. The meal, considered the year's most important, is steeped in Chinese tradition. A whole chicken symbolizes family togetherness, while long, uncut noodles signify long life. Spring rolls — which resemble gold barsare believed to bring prosperity. The feast generally comprises eight or nine dishes. In Chinese culture, eight is considered a lucky number, while nine represents longevity.

The world's largest periodic human migration events compared (Credit: Cmglee, Al MacDonald et al./ CC BY-SA 4.0/ Wikimedia Commons)

The festivities will end on February 5, 2023, with the Lantern Festival. Observers will mark the occasion by hanging red lanterns in homes and temples. They will also pray for good fortune in the upcoming year. The highlight of the day is the dragon dance. As the name indicates, it involves guiding colorful silk and paper dragons across the streets. The mythical creatures are believed to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck.

Each Chinese New Year is associated with one of twelve animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. This includes those born in 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2023. Rabbit people are reputed to be calm, intelligent, popular, and very lucky!

Though commonly called Chinese New Year, the festival is also celebrated in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Japan. Vietnam's New Year celebration, called Tết, lasts just seven days. Also, their zodiac animals are slightly different from the Chinese zodiac. 2023 marks the Year of the Cat in Vietnam. This includes those born in 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, and 2023. Cat people are said to be realistic, sensitive, peaceful, intelligent, and artistic!

Gong Hei Fat Choy!

("Wishing You Great Happiness and Prosperity!")