Lunar New Year 2023 opens the Year of the Rabbit

Happy New Year!

Lunar New Year, so to speak. In many parts of the world, today (January 22) marks the beginning of a new year. The Lunar New Year is widely celebrated throughout East Asia and marks the beginning of spring and the start of a new lunar cycle. The holiday usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. For this reason, the date varies from year to year compared to the fixed holidays of the Gregorian calendar, but always falls in January or February.

This year, the Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the year of the Rabbit according to the Chinese zodiac, which assigns different animals to years in a 12-year cycle. Sourced from (will open in a new tab), the rabbit is associated with the moon in Chinese culture, possibly because the shadows of the moon were once thought to represent the rabbit. The Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2, the longest-lived lunar rover in history, takes its name from the Chinese characters for “jade rabbit”.

Related: What is the phase of the moon today? Moon phases 2023

While the Western zodiac is based on constellations, the 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac do not correspond to star groups. Instead, they are descended from animals found in the “Heaven’s Gate Race”. (will open in a new tab)from ancient Chinese folklore and assigned to 12 divisions of (approximately) 12-year orbit (will open in a new tab) Jupiter.

According to, the origin of the Lunar New Year is not well known as it is believed to date back to prehistoric times. (will open in a new tab). The date of the Lunar New Year is set according to the Chinese calendar, which is based on the changing position of the sun in the sky and the phases of the moon.

Most years in this calendar system, known as the lunisolar calendar, are between 353 and 355 days long. (Leap years have 383 to 385 days.) China uses the Gregorian calendar for most civil and government purposes, while the traditional Chinese calendar is used for holidays and festivals.

The first lunisolar calendars in China were created during the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC – 256 BC). During this period, the beginning of the new year was established as the day of the last new moon preceding the winter solstice. As various dynasties rose and fell throughout Chinese history, the calendar was revised and rewritten until it became the Chinese calendar we know today during the late Ming Dynasty. (will open in a new tab) in the 17th century.

Today Lunar New Year is celebrated all over the world with many traditions. In China, families usually gather for a 16-day celebration full of feasting, fireworks and gifts. Traditional gifts include hongbao, or “red envelopes”, which are usually stuffed with cash.

This holiday also marks the largest annual migration of people. (will open in a new tab) on Earth, during which billions of people around the world go to the homes of their ancestors to celebrate with their families.

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