Composite image by Lauren St. Clair/ The Phoenix News
Composite image by Lauren St. Clair/ The Phoenix News

A little bit about Lunar New Year and this year’s zodiac animal.

As Lunar New Year follows the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar, the dates tend to vary throughout the year. This year, the beginning of Lunar New Year is just a couple of days after Valentine’s Day, February 16!

Many have probably heard of Lunar New Year but don’t know what it is. It is an important festival that marks the start of the first month on the Chinese calendar. The festival usually lasts for fifteen days and is celebrated in a number of Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Thailand and others. Due to the large number of people that celebrate Lunar New Year, it is even considered a holiday in some countries.

Just like the Western Zodiac signs that follow the Gregorian calendar on a monthly basis, the Chinese have animal zodiacs that go through a twelve-year cycle, typically beginning with the rat, and orderly followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal has their own unique astrology elements, similar to Western astrology. This year will be a year of the dog.

“It is an important festival that marks the start of the first month on the Chinese calendar.”

Lunar New Year is considered a major celebration in many Asian countries and there are traditions that have been carried out for decades. One of the main events would be the reunion dinner that happens annually. Families would gather together and have a wonderful time of feasting and bonding. Adults would also give ‘red packets’ that consisted of money for children during that time of the year. Another activity that adds to the liveliness is the lighting of firecrackers. Many countries tend to light up huge firecrackers that brighten the skyscrapers of the beautiful city.

For many international students who can’t make it home this Lunar New Year, fret not, because several clubs have decided to hold events to relieve some of that feeling of homesickness. The Asian Student Association (ASA) will be holding a Lunar New Year Dinner event on February 23, to kick off the first calendar month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Besides that, the Southeast Asian Club (SEAC) will be closing the Lunar New Year celebrations with a Lantern Festival exactly a week after on March 2. The dates may not correspond to the actual dates of the calendar, but drop by these events to have a feel of the Lunar New Year celebrations!