The Year of the Rabbit

Celebrate Lunar New Year with delicious foods and traditions.

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Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar. You may have heard of it referred to as “Chinese New Year,” but it is observed by many East Asian cultures and all over the world by people who follow the lunar calendar. Also known as the “Spring Festival,” Lunar New Year marks the end of some of the coldest days of winter, honors ancestors and celebrates the new beginnings of spring. Keep reading to learn some of the most important Lunar New Year traditions — plus delicious recipes you can try at home today!

The Year of the Rabbit
Lunar New Year generally falls sometime between January 21 and February 20. This year, Lunar New Year is on Sunday, January 22 and it begins the Year of the Rabbit. Each of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac represents the traits of people born within that year. Those born in the Year of the Rabbit are vigilant, quick, quiet and gentle. The rabbit is also a symbol of protection and of the moon.

Lunar New Year Traditions
Above all, Lunar New Year celebrates good fortune, happiness and health. Since red is seen as a lucky color, red envelopes full of cash are handed out during Lunar New Year celebrations in order to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. Bright, noisy firecrackers are also often used during celebrations to scare off the Nian, an ancient monster from a traditional fable who fears loud noise and bright colors. Some observers even refrain from doing laundry or washing their hair on Lunar New Year in order to not wash away any good luck.

Lucky Foods

As with most important holidays, a huge focus of any Lunar New Year celebration is the food. While there are many traditionally enjoyed Lunar New Year foods, three of the most important are dumplings, noodles and spring rolls.

Since dumplings are shaped like a coin, they represent wealth and prosperity in the new year. It has even been said that the more dumplings you eat with your family on Lunar New Year, the more money will come your way so they are a staple at most, if not all, LNY meals.

Due to their length, noodles represent a long and healthy life. In fact, the longer the noodle, the longer and healthier your life should be!

Spring Rolls
For a festival celebrating spring it makes sense that spring rolls should be enjoyed. Similarly to dumplings, the shape and color of spring rolls—gold and rectangular—resembles money (gold bars) so they represent wealth and prosperity in the new year as well.

Check out some of our favorite Lunar New Year-inspired recipes.

Lunar New Year Greetings

恭喜发财 (Gung hay fat choy in Cantonese, Gōngxǐ fācái in Mandarin ) – Chinese well wishes for prosperity and wealth

新年快乐 (San nin faai lok in Cantonese, Xīnnián kuàilè in Mandarin) – Chinese greeting for “Happy new year”

Chúc mừng năm mới (Chook mong numb moi) - Vietnamese greeting for “Happy New Year”

새해 복 많이 받으세요 (Saehae bog manh-i bad-euseyo) - Korean greeting for “Happy New Year”

Амар байна уу (Amar baina uu) – Mongolian Lunar New Year greeting meaning, “How are you?” or, “Are you living peacefully/restfully?”

Mongolian Lunar New Year customs also include a greeting specific to the eldest of the family

Celebrate Locally

Lunar New Year in Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh, PA) – This parade is the highlight of the festival in Pittsburgh.

Lunar New Year in AsiaTown (Cleveland, OH) – Enjoy a traditional lion dance and other festivities around town.

Lunar New Year in Columbus (Columbus, OH) – Ohio State University will host a celebration full of food and demonstrations.

authentic asian flavors

Here's How Some of Our Team Members are Celebrating

Jane McConnell, President of Asian American Business Resource Group
Sr. Digital Marketing Analyst

How have you celebrated Lunar New Year/how are you celebrating this year?
As someone whose family is half Taiwanese and half White, my Lunar New Year celebration was maybe a little different from others in the Asian community. I grew up in a working class household with both parents working full time, and we lived far away from Taiwanese extended family. Instead of having a big celebration with extended family at home, my parents would generally take my siblings and I to the China Buffet King in Green Tree close to the holiday. Although we didn’t often follow the deeper traditions of the holiday, we were able to carve out our own family tradition.

When I was younger, my mother would also sometimes take my siblings and I to the Lunar New Year celebrations hosted in Pittsburgh by various institutions. I still remember watching the dance performances when I was very young, even after all these years.

What is your favorite thing to eat on Lunar New Year?
My favorite food in general is dumplings that my mother, siblings and I make together. The Lunar New Year holiday is no exception — although we typically ended up eating at a restaurant instead. I also enjoy eating rice balls in red bean soup.

What is your favorite Lunar New Year tradition?
The best part of the holiday for me is enjoying good food and reading fortunes with my family. When I was able to celebrate with my mother’s side of the family, she would also give my siblings and I red envelopes with money inside — which I loved just as much as any kid! My paternal grandma would do this as well, as she wanted to share in the holiday with us. I always appreciate when my father’s side of the family learns more about Lunar New Year alongside my siblings and I.

What’s your zodiac animal?
I was born in the Year of the Dog.

Kenneth Au Yeung, Guest Impact Chair of Asian American Business Resource Group
Quality Control Coordinator, Butler Refrigerated Meats

How have you celebrated Lunar New Year/how are you celebrating this year?
Past Lunar New Years were spent going to see my family in New York City. I didn’t get to see them that often living further away, so this made getting together and eating all the wonderful food even more special. Unfortunately, this year will be a little different we will be using video calls to stay connected.

What is your favorite thing to eat on Lunar New Year?
The Noodles! It's my favorite thing that my grandmother would make me. I've tried to recreate this many times and it never seems to be the same. Every time I've seen her cook it she adds something different, but it always comes out so good!

What is your favorite Lunar New Year tradition?
Red Envelopes! This is a fond memory from my childhood my grandmother used to parade me around Chinatown to see all the relatives and friends. Every person we visited would give me a red envelope which had money inside. For a kid this was really exciting, and I looked forward to it every year.

What’s your zodiac animal?
I was born in 1990 the year of the horse!

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