Chinese Class: Lunar New Year

22.02.21 08:00 AM

What is Lunar New Year?

     Did you know there are different types of calendars used all over the world? Well, some are actually obsolete due to modern academia. In the US, we follow the Gregorian calendar. It's 365.2425 days and we celebrate our new year during the first day of the first month, which is January 1st. However, in China, S. Korea, Vietnam and Japan, the lunar calendar dictates the course of a year. Due to ancient customs and traditions, the lunar new year allows for specific holidays and farming practices to commemorate the good old days a bit more accurately.

Phases of the Natural Moon
Phases of the Moon: Alex Andrews

The lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon. Think of one month starting with the new moon and ending with the waning crescent. This means that months will vary between 29 and 30 days and some years will need a boost to stay on track with the seasons.

The Chinese calendar follows this process based on both the moon phases and the sun's longitudinal position. Since this calendar is so important to Chinese culture, Chinese communities around the world still rely on it for various major holidays. After all, there are many components of symbolism in the Chinese calendar.

Chinese Version of Animal Years

     No class would be right without mentioning the infamous Chinese zodiac. Some people don't even know that other countries have different animals for their new years. The Chinese zodiac story comes in many different variations ranging from explanations on how each animal obtained its position to why the cat has no position.

     This year is the year of the ox, so we made sure to study what an ox is and the qualities of the ox. Hopefully, this strong, diligent animal will bring 2021 some power and confidence! 

In-Class PPT of paper cut art Chinese Zodiac in order
Paper Cut Art of Chinese Zodiac in Order
Video of Area in Guangzhou China
Small Town Area of Guangzhou

It's a Family Reunion, so to speak.

Map Screenshot of Guangzhou's Panyu
Guangzhou's Panyu Hanxichanglong

     We're used to having family reunions in America, but we don't specify a time for every family to meet up at the same exact time! The reason China goes through a period of almost unbearable migration is due to families all over the country rushing back to their hometowns to be with their aging elders and kin.

     For married couples, this traditionally means that everyone is going to see the man's side of the family. This still held true during the one-child policy, however, some families relaxed their stance on tradition and welcomed visitation to the woman's family as well.

     Wherever you see a community of Chinese people and their descendants, be sure to check out their side of town for grand scale lunar new year celebrations. You may not be privy to such personal events such as family reunions, but you'll definitely be able to catch a glimpse of lion dancing, dragon dances, Chinese lanterns and more. Who know? You might even stumble upon someone generous enough to share a 红包 or two with you.

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