Lunar Year

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Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, among others. The New Year celebration is usually celebrated for multiple days—not just one day as in the Gregorian calendar’s New Year. In 2022, Lunar New Year begins on February 1. Each year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals included in the cycle of 12 stations or “signs” along the apparent path of the sun through the cosmos.  The 12 zodiac animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. In addition to the animals, five elements of earth, water, fire, wood, and metal are also mapped onto the traditional lunar calendar.  Likewise, each year is associated with an animal that corresponds to an element. Each culture celebrates the Lunar New Year differently with various foods and traditions that symbolize prosperity, abundance, and togetherness. In preparation for the Lunar New Year, houses are thoroughly cleaned to rid them of inauspicious spirits, which might have collected during the old year. Cleaning is also meant to open space for goodwill and good luck. Some households hold rituals to offer food and paper icons to ancestors. Others post red paper and banners inscribed with calligraphy messages of good health and fortune in front of, and inside, homes. Elders give out envelopes containing money to children. Foods made from glutinous rice are commonly eaten, as these foods represent togetherness. Other foods symbolize prosperity, abundance, and good luck.

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