January 22 marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year, also commonly known as the Lunar New Year. This new year, starting on Sunday is the Year of the Rabbit, one of the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac.
In Chinese astrology, each zodiac sign rules over an entire year, as opposed to just one month. Each sign is associated with an animal and one of the five elements. This year specifically is the year of the Water Rabbit.
Chinese New Year will be met with celebrations across the world, as the traditions of the Lunar New Year have become internationally appreciated far beyond East Asia where the traditions originated.
What to expect from the Year of the Rabbit
Each animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, together with its element has distinct characteristics.
According to Cam Zhang, a journalist who has celebrated Chinese New Year since childhood, the Rabbit is characterized as “incredibly witty, outgoing, well-spoken, creative, empathetic, thoughtful and meditative.”
Feng Shui consultant Kay Tom offers a similar description. The Water Rabbit is “a confident fellow who is full of gusto and a love of life that drives his energy forward as he makes his best endeavors in all he applies his mind to,” he told the Daily Mail.
The other 11 animals in the zodiac cycle are the rat, ox, tiger, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. There are five elements: water, wood, fire, metal, and earth.
The element of water means that 2023 is set to provide “introspection, peace and hope.”
“2023 is a great year to be firm with your budgets, finances and plans, while maintaining an open mind to grand opportunities and changes,” Zhang says.
According to the Lunar Calendar, last year was the Year of the Water Tiger. The water tiger is linked to confidence, courage, strength, and competitiveness.
Chinese New Year Celebrations
Chinese New Year is typically the biggest annual celebration in China. It is also widely celebrated across East Asia and in countries with large East Asian diasporas. With COVID-related lockdown restrictions largely lifted in most places around the world, this year’s celebrations are expected to be grander in scale.
Chinese New Year has been celebrated in China for thousands of years and many diverse traditions have developed over this time. Lion dances, dragon dances, temple fairs, and flower market shopping are just some of the practices enjoyed.
Many of the Chinese New Year traditions center on “removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good.” In the lead-up to the new year, people will clean their homes to symbolically remove (and physically) remove dirt and unwanted items. Houses are redecorated with new couplets, lanterns, flowerpots, and furniture to symbolize new beginnings.
Celebrations will last for fifteen days until February 5. On the final day, the send-off Lantern Festival is celebrated in honor of ancestors, and the first full moon of the lunar year is said to bring “peace and enlightenment”.