Lunar New Year

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Lunar New Year
Top to bottom, left to right:
TypeAsian
DateFirst day of lunar or lunisolar calendar (late January - early February in East and Southeast Asia)

Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles, based on the lunar calendar or lunisolar calendar.

Lunar New Year is particularly celebrated in East and South East Asian countries.[1][2][3] It is also a feature of the Hindu-Buddhist calendars of South and Southeast Asia, the Islamic calendar and the Jewish calendar.

Celebrations[edit]

East Asia[edit]

The Lunar New Year celebrations of the East Asian cultural sphere occur on the same date across the region, on the new moon, which occurs in late January or early February, and are based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Although occurring on the same new moon day, celebrations are unique to their own cultures, each with its interpretations, zodiacs and traditions.

Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea celebrate the lunar new year in addition to the solar new year.

Mongols and Tibetans celebrate New Year in February or early March, based on the closely related Mongolian and Tibetan lunisolar calendars. Depending on the year, the New Year can either coincide with the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese New Year, or take place around one month later.

  • Mongolian New Year (Mongolian: Цагаан сар; Cagán sar)[7]
  • Tibetan New Year (Tibetan: ལོ་གསར་, Wylie: lo-gsar)[8]

Japan, excluding Okinawa, now only celebrates the solar new year with the remnants of the lunar celebration called Little New Year (小正月, koshōgatsu) occurring on the 15th day of the first lunar month.[citation needed]

Mainland China[edit]

Before the new year celebration was formed, ancient Chinese gathered around and celebrated at the end of harvest in autumn. However, the celebration is not Mid-Autumn Festival, during which Chinese gathered with family and worship the moon. In the Classic of Poetry, a poem written during Western Zhou (1045 BC – 771 BC), by an anonymous farmer, described how people cleaned up millet stack-sites, toasted to guests with mijiu, killed lambs and cooked the meat, went to their master's home, toasted to the master, and cheered for long lives together, in the 10th month of an ancient solar calendars, which was in autumn.[9] The celebration is believed to be one of the prototypes of the Chinese New Year.[10]

The first dated Chinese new year celebration can be traced back to Warring States period (475 BC – 221 AD). In Lüshi Chunqiu, a exorcistic ritual called "Big Nuo (大儺)" was recorded being carried out in the ending day of a year to expel illness in Qin (state).[11][12] Later, after Qin unified China and the Qin dynasty was founded, the ritual was continued. It evolved to cleaning up houses thoroughly in the preceding days of Chinese New Year.[citation needed]

The first mentioning of the celebration of the start of a new year was recorded in Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). In the book Simin Yueling (四民月令), written by Eastern Han's agronomist and writer Cui Shi (崔寔), the celebration was recorded by stating "The starting day of the first month, is called ‘Zheng Ri’. I bring my wife and children, to worship ancestors and commemorate my father." Later he wrote: "Children, wife, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all serve pepper wine to their parents, make their toast, and wish their parents good health. It's a thriving view."[13] People also went to acquaintances' homes and wished each other a happy new year. In Book of the Later Han Volume 27, 吴良, a county officer was recorded going to his prefect's house with a government secretary, toasting to the prefect and praising the prefect's merit.[14]

Taiwan[edit]

While there is little recorded history of when Lunar New Year was first observed in Taiwan, it is known that the indigenous population had other ceremonies and did not originally celebrate the festival.[15] It was likely first celebrated by the Hakka or Hoklo populations that migrated from China to the island during the 17th century. Due to Taiwan's most population being Han Chinese and its history with China, Lunar New Year is celebrated in Taiwan in a very similar way to China, especially in regards to traditions. However, in modern day, there can be more of a focus on visiting Buddhist or Taoist temples with extended family members. There are also notable variations to the food that is eaten during this time, such as the consumption of pineapple cakes and other products derived from pineapples or white turnips since the latter is a homophone for "good fortune" in Hokkien.[16]

Korea[edit]

The earliest references to Korean New Year are found in 7th century in Chinese historical works, the Book of Sui and the Old Book of Tang, containing excerpts of celebrations during the New Year in the Silla Kingdom, which was influenced by Tang dynasty's calendaric system.[17][18] Korea's own record of new year celebration is found in Samguk yusa (Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms), compiled in the 13th century. Under the rule of 21st King of Silla, new year was celebrated in 488 AD. Then celebration of Korean New Year have continued to Goryeo and Joseon. By the 13th century, Korean New Year was one of the nine major Korean festivals that included ancestral rites, according to the Korean historical work, the Goryeosa.[17][19][20]

As opposed to red envelops, Korean New Year tends to involve white envelops instead.[21]

South Asia[edit]

These South Asian traditional lunisolar celebrations are observed according to the local lunisolar calendars. They are influenced by Indian tradition, which marks the system of lunar months in a solar sidereal year. A separate solar new year also exists for those Indian regions which use solar months in a solar sidereal year.

The following are influenced by the Tibetan calendar:

India[edit]

Various lunar calendars continue to be used throughout India in traditional and religious life. However, they are different from the Chinese lunisolar calendar used in East Asia. The two most common lunar new year celebrations in India are Diwali, and Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Puthandu.[citation needed] Diwali typically falls in October or November, and Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Puthandu typically falls in April.

In ancient times, the sun's entry into Aries coincided with the equinox. However, due to the earth's axial precession, the sidereal year is slightly longer than the tropical year, causing the dates to gradually drift apart. Today, the sun's entry into Aries occurs around 18 April, according to astronomical definitions.[23] Some traditional calendars are still marked by the sun's actual movements while others have since been fixed to the Gregorian calendar.

The sun's entry into Aries is known as meṣa saṅkrānti in Sanskrit, and is observed as Mesha Sankranti and Songkran in South and South-east Asian cultures.[24]

Southeast Asia[edit]

The following Southeast Asian Lunar New Year celebration is observed according to the local lunisolar calendar and is influenced by Indian Hindu traditions.

The following Southeast Asian Lunar New Year celebration is observed according to the local lunisolar calendar and is influenced by Islamic traditions.

  • Satu Suro (Javanese New Year): The Javanese calendar follows a purely lunar calendar of 12 months that retrogresses through the Gregorian and Julian calendar years. As in the Islamic calendar, the day of Javanese New Year may thus fall in any season on the calendar.

Singapore[edit]

Lunar New Year is officially known as "Chinese New Year" in Singapore. It is celebrated in Singapore primarily by members of Chinese diaspora, who make up three-quarters of the population. They include those who are Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew from southeastern China; Hainanese from the island province of Hainan; Hakka, a migrant group spread out all over China; and Peranakan, who have been in the region for over 400 years and also have mixed Malay and European ancestry. Each ethnic group has its own set of traditions, as well as creating new ones incorporating elements from other cultures like Malays and Indians. [26]

Malaysia[edit]

Malaysia is a multi-cultural country. The three dominant races in Malaysia are the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. Each race has its unique culture and customary festivals. Public holidays are declared on the three important festivals celebrated by the Malays, Chinese and Indians, namely Hari Raya Puasa, Chinese New Year and Deepavali respectively.[27]

As timing of these three important festivals fluctuate due to their reliance on the lunar calendars, they occasionally occur close to one another - every 33 years to be exact.[28] Malaysians has named this phenomenon Kongsi Raya (Gongxi Raya), a Malaysian portmanteau, denoting the Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivals.

Vietnam[edit]

Tết in Vietnam 2022

The earliest celebration of Lunar New Year in Vietnam is presumed by some to be brought by the Emperor Triệu Đà. The Chinese brought with them their own policies, cultures, traditions. The Lunar New Year was passed to the Vietnamese people and has stayed relatively intact through the centuries, despite uneasy and often hostile relations between the two countries.[29][30] The main difference between the Chinese and Vietnamese lunar calendars is that the Vietnamese replace the Ox and Rabbit in the Chinese calendar with the Buffalo and Cat, respectively.[citation needed] However, it is noteworthy that the Lunar New Year (Spring Festival) which is celebrated in late January or in the first half of February coincides with the onset of Spring in the regions of northern Vietnam and parts of southern China where the ancient Vietnamese kingdom of Âu Lạc and some regions of the Baiyue people are located. The celebration marks the beginning of a new planting season, particularly rice. There is also the historical legend of the origin of bánh chưng or chung cake, which started on the occasion of Tết. All early written records of the country have been destroyed through the millennia by numerous invasions from various groups with the last major destruction occurred during the Ming invasion of Vietnam 1406–1407 AD.

Vietnamese New Year can also be traced back to Lý dynasty (1009 AD - 1226 AD). Vietnamese people often celebrated their Tết holiday by painting tattoos on themselves, drinking rice liquor, eat betel nuts, and making bánh chưng (chung cake), as well as pickled onions. During the period of King Lê Thánh Tông (1442 AD - 1497 AD), Tết was considered a significant festival in Vietnam.[31] Lucky money is also given on Lunar New Year.[32]

Middle East/West Asia[edit]

Lunar new year celebrations that originated in Middle East fall on other days:

  • Islamic New Year of the Hijri calendar or Muslim New Year is not lunisolar but follows a purely lunar calendar of 12 months that goes through the Gregorian and Julian calendar years. The day of Islamic New Year may thus fall in any season on the calendar.
  • In 2022, the Islamic New Year is expected to fall on July 30, 2022, and in 2023, it is expected to fall on July 19, 2023.
  • In Judaism there are as many as four lunar new year observances. Since the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar, the days always fall in the same season.
    • Nisan is the month of the "barley ripening", or "spring" Aviv/Abib, and the book of Exodus 12:1-2, has God instructing Moses to command the Israelites to fix the new moon, the 1st day, of Nisan at the first, or head moon of the year. The talmud in Rosh Hashanah (tractate) 2a calls this the Rosh HaShana, the new year, for kings and pilgrimages. The climax of this lunar new year is the festival of Passover, which begins on 15 Nisan/Abib (Aviv). It is also the first day of secular new years in Karaite Judaism and Samaritanism.
    • 1 Elul corresponds to the New Year for Animal Tithes in the Rabbinic tradition. Elul is the sixth month, a very late summer/early autumn holiday. It is the date on which the Samaritan calendar advances a year, on the theory that 1 Elul commemorates the creation of the Earth.
    • 1 Tishrei, is called Yom teruah, Day of (trumpet) Blasts in the written Torah, and it falls on the first of the "seventh month". It is translated Feast of Trumpets in most English bible translations. This Day of trumpet Blasts was also called Rosh Hashanah, literally "new year", in Rabbinic Judaism, on the theory that it is Yom haDin, a universal judgement day for all the children of Adam including Jews. Thus the universal, secular new year. It is the date on which the Rabbinic calendar advances a year, on the theory that 1 Tishrei is the day on which the world was born. Rosh Hashanah also inaugurates the ten days known as the High Holy Days/High Holidays or Days of Awe, culminating with Yom Kippur; which is the holiest day of the year in Rabbinic Judaism. For Samaritans and Karaites, Passover remains the holiest day of the year.
    • Tu BiShvat is the New Year for Trees in Rabbinic Judaism. It is a festive holiday rather than a holy day
  • Ebionites new year
  • Nazarene (sect) new year

North America[edit]

Hobiyee, also spelled Hoobiyee, Hobiyee, Hobiiyee and Hoobiiyee, is the new year of the Nisg̱a'a people, celebrated in February or March. It signifies the emergence of the first crescent moon and begins the month Buxw-laḵs.[33] Celebrations of Hobiyee are done by Nisg̱a'a wherever they are located, but the largest celebrations are in Nisg̱a'a itself and in areas with a large Nisg̱a'a presence like Vancouver.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "The Lunar New Year: Rituals and Legends". Asia for Educators, Columbia University.
  3. ^ Wamg, Frances Kai-Hwa (23 January 2017). "10 Lunar New Year facts to help answer your pressing questions". NBC News. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  4. ^ Sohn, Ho-min (2006). Korean Language in Culture and Society. University of Hawaii Press. 86. ISBN 9780824826949. ...Korean calendars Calendars were adopted from China...
  5. ^ Reingold, Edward (2008). Calendrical Calculations. Cambridge University Press. 269. ISBN 9780521885409. ... Korea used the Chinese calendar for ...
  6. ^ Orchiston, Wayne et al. (2011). Highlighting the History of Astronomy in the Asia-Pacific Region, p. 155.
  7. ^ a b Morris Rossabi (28 November 2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. BRILL. pp. 282–. ISBN 978-90-04-28529-3.
  8. ^ Ligeti, Louis (1984). Tibetan and Buddhist Studies: Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Alexander Csoma De Koros. Vol. 2. University of California Press. p. 344. ISBN 9789630535731.
  9. ^ Classic of Poetry - Qi Yue (in Chinese). ...十月涤場。 朋酒斯飨,曰殺羔羊。 躋彼公堂,稱彼兕觥,萬壽無疆。
  10. ^ "春節起源". www.sohu.com.
  11. ^ Lü, Buwei. "12". Lüshi Chunqiu (in Chinese). 命有司大儺,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒氣。
  12. ^ 田, 東江. "儺戲". Sohu. 《呂氏春秋·季冬紀》《後漢書·禮儀志》均有相應記載,前者云,届时“命有司大儺,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒氣”。後者云:“先臘一日,大儺,謂之逐疫。”
  13. ^ 崔, 寔. 四民月令. 正月之旦,是謂正日。躬率妻孥,絜祀祖禰...子、婦、孫、曾,各上椒酒於其家長,稱觴舉壽,欣欣如也。
  14. ^ Book of the Later Han. p. Vol. 27. 歲旦與掾史入賀,門下掾王望舉觴上壽,謅稱太守功德。
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  16. ^ "11 Foods You Must Eat During Lunar New Year". Of Taiwan. 23 February 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2022.
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  20. ^ Lee, Yong-Sam; Jeong, Jang-Hae; Kim, Sang-Hyuk; Lee, Yong-Bok (15 September 2008). "Astronomical Calendar and Restoration Design of Clepsydra in the Silla era 신라시대 천문역법(天文曆法)과 물시계(漏刻) 복원연구" (PDF). Journal of Astronomy and Space Sciences. 25 (3): 299-320. doi:10.5140/JASS.2008.25.3.299.
  21. ^ "Seollal, Korean Lunar New Year". Asia Society. Retrieved 2 February 2022.
  22. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
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External links[edit]