Year of the Rabbit: From lucky treats to traditional greetings, we’ll answer your Lunar New Year questions

SAN FRANCISCO– The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is based on the cycles of the moon and falls on a different day each year. It marks the beginning of a new lunar calendar and celebrates the arrival of spring. It is known by various names to Asian communities around the world, with Chinese New Year or Chinese “Chunjie” being the most commonly used, mainly by the Chinese diaspora around the world. Other names include Vietnamese Tet, Korean Solnal, and Tibetan Losar.

Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinese culture typically last 15 days, culminating in a Lantern Festival on the last day.

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The Year of the Rabbit for 2023 will be the first lunar new year celebrated as an official state holiday in California. It is the first time anywhere in the US that this has been done for the Asian community, an act by California to show its solidarity with the Asian American community through the tide of anti-Asian hatred and violence that mounted thereafter COVID-10 Pandemic.

Last year Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law declaring the Lunar New Year a national holiday. In his sign the messagehe wrote that this act “…recognises the diversity and cultural importance that Asian Americans bring to California and provides an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the importance of the Lunar New Year.”

How it’s celebrated

Spring cleaning is a common practice of those celebrating the season. Preparing to welcome luck and happiness for the year is considered an important practice before the New Year comes.

It is also common to stay up late to ring in the New Year, similar to what is common in American culture. However, fireworks and firecrackers as well as lion and dragon dances are considered additional elements to ward off evil spirits and scare away bad luck.

Giving away red packets of crispy dollar bills to children and the elderly is another key hallmark of the season. The red packets symbolize good luck, the dollar bills must add up to a round even number, and the act of giving and receiving signals the exchange of a blessing.

“lucky food”

Dottie Li, Voice and Voice Coach of Rosetta Stone Mandarin, explains: “There are some must-have items like fish, tofu, bok choy and of course noodle soup – a traditional meal choice. Noodles are believed to bring good luck, fish rhymes with leftovers, pak choi and tofu symbolize peace and protection.”

Depending on the region and country, other foods are staples such as sweet sticky rice cakes (nian gao), sticky rice balls (tang yuan), and tik ko ladoo, a crunchy ball of sesame seeds and toffee.

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Family visits and gatherings with friends, much like American Thanksgiving, are the focus of the Lunar New Year.

Chinese people greet each other with auspicious sayings and phrases to wish each other health, wealth and happiness when they meet during this time.

Traditional greetings include:

  • Gong Xi Fa Cai: May great wealth and prosperity be with you.
  • Chu Ru Ping An: Travel safely in and out of your home.
  • Bu Bu Gao Sheng: May you be promoted at every turn. May you continually grow and rise.

May you have a prosperous and healthy Lunar New Year!

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All rights reserved. Year of the Rabbit: From lucky treats to traditional greetings, we’ll answer your Lunar New Year questions

Laura Coffey

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