Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the new year on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. In 2022, the holiday officially begins on February 1st and ends on February 11th. Also called the Spring Festival, the Lunar New Year is considered the most important holiday of the year in many East and Southeast Asian cultures. Each culture welcomes the new year differently with their own traditions and foods, but is centered around good health, prosperity, luck, and fortune for the year.
The beginning of the lunar new year also brings a change in energy and a new sign. According to Chinese astrology, each year corresponds to a different animal of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, each having its own reputed attributes. In order these are - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. As we transition out of the year of the Ox, a symbol of diligence and persistence to the year of the Tiger, which symbolizes strength, vitality, and courage, we all experience energetic change and shifts.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, all of nature is governed by the Five Elements – Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth. Every 60 years, one of these elements also coordinate to each animal zodiac sign and the last Water Tiger year was in 1962. With the abundance of the Water element, this represents the kidneys and urinary bladder in TCM physiology.
Here are some traditional lunar new year activities you can do to usher in the new lunar year:
- Celebrate with family - Traditionally, this is a time of gathering where people travel home to see their family and share a big family dinner. Whether you are cooking together or eating out, these are dishes that invite fortune, good health and prosperity for the year to come. Common dishes served are fish, spring rolls, sticky rice, longevity noodles, and dumplings.
- Cleaning the house - Removing the old, and welcoming the new. It is very common in most Chinese households to clean and clear out homes before the new year begins. It’s not just about throwing away things you no longer need, but also removing blockages and shifting the energy in our spaces, much like what happens during an acupuncture treatment!
- Wear red - this color is believed to be an auspicious color, denoting energy, prosperity, and new life. According to ancient Chinese folk mythology, “Nian”, was a beast that lived in the mountains and was believed to come down at the end of the year to destroy farmer’s crops, animals, and people. The villagers discovered loud noise and the color red worked to scare the monster away. In passing down this folklore, each new year’s eve is filled with lion’s dances, firecrackers and the color red.
- Spread the joy - Use positive words, motivations, and thoughts which enable you to share joy and love during this festive period. Wish friends, family and colleagues well wishes.
- Live in harmony with nature - TCM is all about balance so the more we can live in harmony with the changes that happen around us, whether it’s an element or zodiac shifts, the more we become in balance with ourselves.