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Lunar New Year

Authored by Katherine Waite
Published on 22nd January, 2023 1 min read

Lunar New Year

A poster for Chinese New Year, featuring a rabbit.

British Online Archives would like to wish all our customers a happy Lunar New Year. From midnight on the 22nd January 2023 (22/01/2023), until the festival ends on the 1st February, China’s population and its worldwide diaspora will celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. Unlike the Western Gregorian calendar, based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun, Chinese New Year is determined by the moon’s orbit around the Earth. Thus, it is also known as the Lunar New Year.

It was over 2,000 years ago, during the Han dynasty, that the date for New Year celebrations was fixed to the first day of the first lunar month. Since then, customs and traditions to celebrate the coming of the New Year have sprouted up organically, encompassing fifteen days of festivities. Spending time with family and friends, sharing a feast, setting off firecrackers, and partaking in dragon dances are just some of the manifestations of the Lunar New Year in China and across East Asia.

In Chinese tradition, some animals carry strongly gendered meanings. The Year of the Rabbit is seen as a better year for girls because the rabbit’s qualities of empathy, kindness, and patience are stereotypically feminine qualities. For some people, having a boy in the Year of the Rabbit is cause for concern as, since the eighteenth century, rabbits have been connected with male homosexuality. In recent years, the Chinese LGBTQ+ communities have rejected this stigma by reclaiming the Rabbit God as a patron deity.

Authored by Katherine Waite

Katherine Waite

Katherine Waite is Head of Publishing at British Online Archives. Katherine studied History at Newcastle University, graduating in 2016. She has worked in the editorial and content teams at British Online Archives. As Head of Publishing she is currently working on curating a collection on the history of pandemic disease in the United Kingdom.

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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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