Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are moon cycles, based on the lunar calendar or lunisolar calendar.

Lunar New Year is particularly celebrated in East Asia, influenced by the Chinese New Year and the Chinese Calendar.[1][2][3] It is also a feature of the Hindu-Buddhist calendars of South and Southeast Asia, the Islamic calendar and the Jewish calendar.


East Asia

The modern East Asian Lunar New Year celebrations usually fall on the same date across the region (which occurs in late January or early February).

The following were derived from the Chinese New Year in ancient history, but are completely unique to their own cultures, using traditional Chinese calendar but sometimes with different interpretations, zodiacs or traditions. China, Korea and Vietnam still celebrate them in addition to the Solar New Year, whilst Japan has their own version. They occur on similar dates:

The following are influenced by the Chinese calendar during the long history of China:


Before new year celebration was formed, ancient Chinese gathered around and celebrated at the end of harvest in autumn. However, the celebration is not Mid-Autumn Festival, during which Chinese gathered with family and worship the moon. In the Classic of Poetry, a poem written during Western Zhou (1045 BC – 771 BC), by an anonymous farmer, described how people cleaned up millet stack-sites, toasted to guests with mijiu, killed lambs and cooked the meat, went to their master's home, toasted to the master, and cheered for long lives together, in the 10th month of an ancient solar calendars, which was in autumn.[9] The celebration is believed to be one of the prototypes of the Chinese New Year.[10]

The first dated Chinese new year celebration can be traced back to Warring States period (475 BC – 221 AD). In Lüshi Chunqiu, a exorcistic ritual called "Big Nuo (大儺)" was recorded being carried out in the ending day of a year to expel illness in Qin (state).[11][12] Later, after Qin unified China and the Qin dynasty was founded, the ritual was continued. It evolved to cleaning up houses thoroughly in the preceding days of Chinese New Year.

The first mentioning of celebration of the start of a new year was recorded in Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). In the book Simin Yueling (四民月令), written by Eastern Han's agronomist and writer Cui Shi (崔寔), celebration was recorded by stating "The starting day of the first month, is called ‘Zheng Ri’. I bring my wife and children, to worship ancestors and commemorate my father." Later he wrote: "Children, wife, grandchildren, and great grandchildren all serve pepper wine to their parents, make their toast, and wish their parents good health. It's a thriving view."[13] People also went to acquaintances' homes and wished each others happy new year. In Book of the Later Han Volume 27, 吴良, a county officer was recorded going to his prefect's house with a government secretary, toasting to the prefect and praising the prefect's merit.[14]

Derivation (Korea)

The earliest references to Korean New Year are found in 7th century in Chinese historical works, the Book of Sui and the Old Book of Tang, containing excerpts of celebrations during the New Year in the Silla Kingdom, back when the kingdom's calendar was influenced by Tang dynasty's calendaric system.[15][16]


The earliest celebration of Lunar New Year in Vietnam is believed brought by Zhao Tuo, a Qin dynasty Chinese general, the first king of Nanyue and the founder of the Nanyue 2000 years ago. In 204 BCE, Zhao Tuo established the Nanyue Kingdom, which is composed of Guangxi, Guangdong and Northern Vietnam today. Chinese policies, cultures, traditions such as Lunar New Year were brought in the times when he ruled Northern Vietnam.[17][18]

Officially, the first Vietnamese new year can be traced back to Ly dynasty (1009 AD - 1226 AD), various Vietnamese documents recorded how people paint tattoos on themselves, gather together and drink traditional Vietnamese rice liquor, welcome guests to eat Chung cakes, etc. During the period of King Le Thanh Tong (1442 AD - 1497 AD), Tet (Vietnamese Lunar New Year) was considered the most important festival in Vietnam.[19]

South Asia

These South Asian traditional lunisolar celebrations are observed according to the local lunisolar calendars. They are influenced by Indian tradition, which marks the system of lunar months in a solar sidereal year. A separate solar new year also exists for those Indian regions which use solar months in a solar sidereal year.

The following are influenced by the Tibetan calendar:


Various lunar calendars continue to be used throughout India in traditional and religious life. However, they are different from the East Asian Lunar Calendar. The two most common lunar new year celebrations in India are Diwali, and Gudi Padwa/Ugadi/Puthandu.

In ancient times, the sun's entry into Aries coincided with the equinox. However, due to the earth's axial precession, the sidereal year is slightly longer than the tropical year, causing the dates to gradually drift apart. Today, the sun's entry into Aries occurs around 18 April, according to astronomical definitions.[21] Some traditional calendars are still marked by the sun's actual movements while others have since been fixed to the Gregorian calendar.

The sun's entry into Aries is known as meṣa saṅkrānti in Sanskrit, and is observed as Mesha Sankranti and Songkran in South and South-east Asian cultures.[22]

Southeast Asia

The following Southeast Asian Lunar New Year celebration is observed according to the local lunisolar calendar and is influenced by Indian Hindu traditions.

The following Southeast Asian Lunar New Year celebration is observed according to the local lunisolar calendar and is influenced by Islamic traditions.

  • Satu Suro (Javanese New Year): The Javanese calendar follows a purely lunar calendar of 12 months that retrogresses through the Gregorian and Julian calendar years. As in the Islamic calendar, the day of Javanese New Year may thus fall in any season on the calendar.

Middle East

Lunar New Year celebrations that originated in Middle East fall on other days:

  • In Judaism there are as many as four lunar new year observances. Since the Hebrew calendar is lunisolar, the days always fall in the same season.
    • 1 Nisan is the month of the "barley ripening", or "spring" Aviv/Abib, and is the first month according to book of Exodus 12:1-2. The talmud in Rosh Hashanah (tractate) 2a calls this the Rosh HaShana, the new year, for kings and pilgrimages. The climax of this lunar new year is the festival of Passover, which begins on 15 Nisan/Abib (Aviv). It is also the first day of secular new years in Karaite Judaism and Samaritanism.
    • 1 Elul corresponds to the New Year for Animal Tithes in the Rabbinic tradition. Elul is the sixth month, a very late summer/early autumn holiday. It is the date on which the Samaritan calendar advances a year, on the theory that 1 Elul commemorates the creation of the Earth.
    • 1 Tishrei, is called Yom teruah, Day of (trumpet) Blasts in the written Torah, and it falls on the first of the "seventh month". It is translated Feast of Trumpets in most English bible translations. This Day of trumpet Blasts was also called Rosh Hashanah, literally "new year", in Rabbinic Judaism, on the theory that it is Yom haDin, a universal judgement day for all the children of Adam including Jews. Thus the universal, secular new year. It is the date on which the Rabbinic calendar advances a year, on the theory that 1 Tishrei is the day on which the world was born. Rosh Hashanah also inaugurates the ten days known as the High Holy Days/High Holidays or Days of Awe, culminating with Yom Kippur; which is the holiest day of the year in Rabbinic Judaism. For Samaritans and Karaites, Passover remains the holiest day of the year.
    • Tu BiShvat is the New Year for Trees in Rabbinic Judaism. It is a festive holiday rather than a holy day
  • Islamic New Year or Muslim New Year is not lunisolar but follows a purely lunar calendar of 12 months that retrogresses through the Gregorian and Julian calendar years. The day of Muslim New Year may thus fall in any season on the calendar.
  • Ebionites new year
  • Nazarene (sect) new year

North America

Hobiyee, also spelled Hoobiyee, Hobiyee, Hobiiyee and Hoobiiyee, is the Nisg̱a'a new year celebrated every February / March. Nisg̱a'a are Indigenous people of Canada. It signifies the emergence of the first crescent moon and begins the month Buxw-laḵs.[24] Celebrations of Hobiyee are done by Nisg̱a'a wherever they are located, but the largest celebrations are in Nisg̱a'a itself and in areas with a large Nisg̱a'a presence like Vancouver.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Huang, Grace. "Lunar New Year: 11 things to know".
  2. ^ "The Lunar New Year: Rituals and Legends". Asia for Educators, Columbia University.
  3. ^ Wamg, Frances Kai-Hwa (23 January 2017). "10 Lunar New Year facts to help answer your pressing questions". NBC News. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Morris Rossabi (28 November 2014). From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi. BRILL. pp. 282–. ISBN 978-90-04-28529-3.
  5. ^ Sohn, Ho-min (2006). Korean Language in Culture and Society. University of Hawaii Press. 86. ISBN 9780824826949. ...Korean calendars Calendars were adopted from China...
  6. ^ Reingold, Edward (2008). Calendrical Calculations. Cambridge University Press. 269. ISBN 9780521885409. ... Korea used the Chinese calendar for ...
  7. ^ Orchiston, Wayne et al. (2011). Highlighting the History of Astronomy in the Asia-Pacific Region, p. 155.
  8. ^ Ligeti, Louis (1984). Tibetan and Buddhist Studies: Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Alexander Csoma De Koros. 2. University of California Press. p. 344. ISBN 9789630535731.
  9. ^ Classic of Poetry - Qi Yue (in Chinese). ...十月涤場。 朋酒斯飨,曰殺羔羊。 躋彼公堂,稱彼兕觥,萬壽無疆。
  10. ^ "春節起源".
  11. ^ Lü, Buwei. "12". Lüshi Chunqiu (in Chinese). 命有司大儺,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒氣。
  12. ^ 田, 東江. "儺戲". 《呂氏春秋·季冬紀》《後漢書·禮儀志》均有相應記載,前者云,届时“命有司大儺,旁磔,出土牛,以送寒氣”。後者云:“先臘一日,大儺,謂之逐疫。”
  13. ^ 崔, 寔. 四民月令. 正月之旦,是謂正日。躬率妻孥,絜祀祖禰...子、婦、孫、曾,各上椒酒於其家長,稱觴舉壽,欣欣如也。
  14. ^ Book of the Later Han. p. Vol. 27. 歲旦與掾史入賀,門下掾王望舉觴上壽,謅稱太守功德。
  15. ^ Kim, Myeong-ja (2010). [Lunar New Year]. Encyclopedia of Korean Culture (in Korean). Academy of Korean Studies. Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  16. ^ Lee, Yong-Sam; Jeong, Jang-Hae; Kim, Sang-Hyuk; Lee, Yong-Bok (15 September 2008). "Astronomical Calendar and Restoration Design of Clepsydra in the Silla era 신라시대 천문역법(天文曆法)과 물시계(漏刻) 복원연구" (PDF). Journal of Astronomy and Space Sciences. 25 (3): 299-320. doi:10.5140/JASS.2008.25.3.299.
  17. ^ Amies, Alex; Ban, Gu (2020). Hanshu Volume 95 The Southwest Peoples, Two Yues, and Chaoxian: Translation with Commentary. Gutenberg Self Publishing Press. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-9833348-7-3.
  18. ^ Le, C.N. "Tet, A Celebration of Rebirth". Asian Nation. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  19. ^ Harry, Hoang. "Tet Holiday – Everything about Vietnamese New Year 2021". Viet Saigon Local Tour. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  20. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-14-341421-6.
  21. ^ McClure, Bruce (28 December 2016). "Sun in zodiac constellations, 2017". EarthSky. EarthSky Communications Inc. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  22. ^ Robert Sewell; Śaṅkara Bālakr̥shṇa Dīkshita; Robert Schram (1996). Indian Calendar. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 29–35. ISBN 978-81-208-1207-9.
  23. ^ Tran Ky Phuong, Bruce Lockhart (1 January 2011). The Cham of Vietnam: History, Society and Art. NUS Press. p. 326-335.
  24. ^ Sim’oogit Minee’eskw (Rod Robinson); Sim’oogit Ẃii-Gadim Xsgaak (Eli Gosnell) (2012), Sigidim-hanak’ Hgluwilksihlgum Hlbin (Emma Nyce) (ed.), Nisg̱a'a Hobiyee (PDF), Hlayim Wil (Chester Moore), Sim’oogit K’eexkw (Herbert Morven) and Sim’oogit Hleek (Dr. Joseph Gosnell), Nisg̱a'a: Nisg̱a'a Lisims Government, retrieved 8 February 2017
  25. ^ "Nisga'a ring in their new year with Hobiyee celebration in B.C." CBC. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2017.

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