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Lunar New Year Celebrations Around the World

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Fun fact: the new year isn’t only celebrated on January 1. In fact, there are multiple new years each time the earth revolves around the sun. While most of the world aligns around the Gregorian calendar — the 12 month, 365 day calendar that celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1 — to track time and plan our daily lives, there are also lunar and lunisolar calendars that recognize the start of a new year on different dates. 

These lunar new years have great meaning for many different cultures, are called different names, and occur throughout the Gregorian calendar year. One of the most visible, recognized lunar new years falls in January or February, with Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean cultures all celebrating Lunar New Year around the same time. Billions of people around the world use this holiday to usher in good luck and prosperity for the coming year, and each culture’s traditions are a bit different:

  • China: Known as Guo Nian, Chinese New Year is traditionally a 15-day celebration. Preparations and celebrations begin the evening before on New Year’s Eve, then different traditions are observed on each day. Traditions include lion dances, elders giving money to young people, and different family celebrations. It culminates with the lantern festival on the 15th day. 
  • Vietnam: Known as Tet Nguyen Dan, Tet is the Vietnamese New Year and is celebrated with family gatherings, traditional foods, and the giving of li xi (red envelopes). People often clean and decorate their homes, visit temples, and participate in dragon and lion dances. It’s also a tradition to buy new clothes for the new year! 
  • Korea: Known as Seollal, is a time for family gatherings and ancestral rituals. During this three-day holiday, people pay respects to their ancestors, play traditional games, and enjoy special foods like tteokguk (rice cake soup). 

This is just a sample of the celebrations of lunar new years, which happen in 50+ countries around the world. For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, we’re wishing you health, happiness, and prosperity in the year ahead. And for those who do not celebrate, why not use this time to check out Lunar New Year festivities around you?

January 31, 2024

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