Hopping into 2023 with the Year of the...

Hopping into 2023 with the Year of the Rabbit

by Sarah Leung
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

2023’s Chinese New Year falls on January 22. With Chinese people making up 1.7 million of Canada’s population, many celebrate this tradition.

This year highlights the rabbit, which is one of the 12 zodiac animals. Swap out the old Christmas red and green for Chinese New Year red and gold, have a feast, and take part in many festive activities for the new year.

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year welcomes a new year by focusing on getting rid of the bad and receiving the good. This celebration spans 15 days, starting with a feast and ending with the Lantern Festival.

Chinese New Year is a part of Lunar New Year, which many East Asian cultures celebrate.

Communities such as Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, and Tibetan peoples also have their own new year traditions. The cultures celebrate differently, but they follow the same lunisolar calendar.

The Lunisolar Calendar

While many traditions follow the Gregorian calendar, the one based on a 365-day cycle, some cultures use different calendars for celebrations.

Lunar New Year follows the lunisolar calendar. The lunisolar calendar depends on the movements of the sun and moon around the Earth.

Since months on the lunisolar calendar always start with a new moon, New Year’s Day differs each year.
Lunar New Year 2022 started on February 1, while this year it starts on January 22.

The Chinese Zodiac

Twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac represent each year. Those animals are:

  • Rat
  • Ox
  • Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Dragon
  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Goat
  • Monkey
  • Rooster
  • Dog
  • Pig

Each animal year only happens every 12 years as the cycle rotates. For those born this year, they are considered rabbits. Other rabbits include people born in 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, and 2011.

Some Chinese New Year Customs

  1. On Chinese New Year, people usually hold feasts with their families. The Chinese language is ripe with puns, and many lucky Chinese dishes are associated with positive words.

    A sound in Chinese can have many meanings, thanks to tones. For example, fish is eaten because in Chinese it also sounds like the word for “plentiful,” signaling that the new year will have a lot of good luck.

  1. Young, unmarried people receive red envelopes from older married relatives. These money-filled red envelopes bless good wishes upon the receivers. The envelopes are called different names depending on the dialect: Hongbao in Mandarin, Laisi in Cantonese, or Ang pow in Hokkien are some examples.

The money totals to an even number, as that is also lucky. Cantonese and Hokkien people distribute pairs of envelopes, aligning with the belief that good things come in pairs.

  1. Many people watch Chinese lion dances. A team of two works each lion, with one partner as the head, and the other as the body of the lion.

    These performers showcase their agility, balance, and strength when working together as lions. A typical performance features the lions walking in a front of a crowd, before eating and spitting out lettuce. At the end, they receive red envelopes from the patrons.

Due to the dance’s historical ties with status, most lion dancers are male. However, more lion dance communities worldwide are welcoming female and non-binary dancers.

Events in Canada

Partake in the festivities by checking out events in your local community.

Many communities across Canada are holding events, such as Vancouver’s 48th Chinatown Spring Festival Celebration and Toronto’s 2023 Chinatown BIA Lunar New Year Festival.

Let’s welcome in the new year well, and look forward to the rest of 2023. As Cantonese speakers say, Gung hay fat choy (wishing you prosperity).

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