In times of uncertainty, people have often looked up to the sun, moon, and stars for guidance. We see it in cultures across time and geography, from the ancient Egyptians to the Maya of Mesoamerica. And today marks an important date in the Chinese lunisolar calendar.
It’s Lunar New Year!
Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, has a rich history that dates back over a millennia. The Chinese zodiac is believed to have first appeared in the 5th century BCE, but the true date is unknown. What we do know is that the zodiac was used at least 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty. It is made up of 12 animals that each represent a different year.
The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey,
rooster, dog, and pig. Image by rawpixel.com
This year, 2023, marks the year of the rabbit. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the zodiac, and it is thought to be the luckiest of the twelve. What can we expect in 2023? According to the Chinese zodiac, this year will bring much needed harmony and peace.
Celebrations in 2023
Today, Chinese New Year is a time to gather with family and friends. Outside the home, celebrations are easy to spot. Red-colored decorations adorn houses, storefronts, and streets to symbolize new life and prosperity. During Lunar New Year, everyone can enjoy the sights and sounds of traditional dances and the firework display. The bang of drums, the clang of cymbals, and the crackle of firecrackers signal a fresh start to the year.
Traditional dancing being performed at a Lunar New Year festival in Orlando, Florida.
In the United States, Lunar New Year celebrations can be found in cities across the country. Want to find events in cities near you? Check out our list below:
- San Francisco
- Las Vegas
- New York
- Los Angeles
- Washington DC
Learning Resources for Kids
With so many events in January and February, Lunar New Year is a great opportunity to learn about Chinese history and culture. Here are some books and activities your kids can enjoy:
- Check out the Los Angeles Chinese American Museum's printable activities.
- Young readers can count the zodiac animals in this festive picturebook.
- Learn about different Lunar New Year's traditions in this children's book about a Chinese American family.
- The Walters Art Museum has a paper lantern activity that's perfect for Lunar New Year.
- And, of course, jump into Chinese history with Honest History's kids magazine Issue 2 | A Pirate's Tale
For all those celebrating, Honest History wishes you a happy Lunar New Year! May the Year of the Rabbit bring you abundance, prosperity, and peace.