The Frenshe Editors

What Is Lunar New Year and How To Celebrate It

Lunar New Year—the holiday celebrated all across Asia in different fashions—falls on January 31st this year.

In case you didn’t know, many Eastern Asian cultures celebrate the New Year on the second New Moon after the winter solstice (this changes each year, unlike Western New Years) as part of an annual 15-day festival, after the cycle of the Full Moon. Rooted in Chinese folklore, the celebrations are full of unique traditions that go back centuries. Like all New Years around the world, the lunar calendar is meant to sweep out the past and bring in new luck. Festivities include fireworks, parades, red envelopes, and, of course, food.

2022 is the year of the Tiger. You’re a Tiger sign per the Chinese Zodiac if you were born in the following years: 1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022. Per the zodiac, people who were born in the year of the Tiger are known to be courageous, assertive, and natural leaders. While maybe possessing a short temper, Tigers are passionate people with a hunger for adventure.

While Lunar New Year is usually celebrated by huge public celebrations (think parades!), this year is probably a little different given COVID-19 restrictions. That being said, you can still celebrate Lunar Year virtually or in small groups while following CDC approved protocols.

Virtual Feasts: Even if there’s no way to be together in real life, that doesn’t mean we can’t eat together. Food plays a huge role in the celebration of Lunar New Year and every meal has meaning. To get fully into the holiday mood, hand-make some lucky dumplings while Facetiming your friends before sitting down for a meal together.

Mahjong Night: One of the most popular and beloved games in all of Asia, mahjong is the tile-based activity that you’ve likely seen in pop culture as of late (aka the iconic scene in Crazy Rich Asians). While it may look intimidating with all the symbols, mahjong is actually super simple to learn and you can play it online.

Stream Asian-made films: Even though Lunar New Year is one day out of the year, there are ways to support Asian culture all year around. Thankfully, and there’s not a shortage of incredible Asian American filmmakers in Hollywood. Gather your friends, buy some moon cakes from your locally owned Asian bakery, and put on The Farewell by Lulu Wang (or anything here) for some fun times.

Shop Asian Owned Businesses: Whether you’re ordering food or a piece of jewelry, be intentional about seeking out Asian owned small businesses. Buying from small businesses means putting your money directly into the pockets of the owners and you’re supporting local creators.

Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, Lunar New Year is something so special so many cultures around the world and this year is no different.

(A version of this ran in Cosmopolitan in 2021.)

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