Lunar New Year’s: A Global Perspective

For Tết (Vietnamese Lunar New Year), I’m spending the day with my family (and getting in gear for TempleCon.) But I wanted to leave a little note for today to those who celebrate Lunar New Year’s in any manner.

Most people would recognize that today is Chinese New Year, and that it is the Year of the Metal Rabbit.

For the Vietnamese, however, Feb 2nd was the start of our New Year, the Year of the Metal Cat.

Either one sounds pretty steampunk, though.

Steampunk rabbit ring. Click for link.

Andrew Chase’s cheetah. Click for link.

After the jump, check out some more info about how Lunar New Year is recognized around the world.

Four Facts about Lunar New Year’s You May Not Know

1) Lunar New Year is celebrated different times of the year for the various cultures, depending upon what lunar calendar they use and their own traditions. Most cultures who celebrate Lunar New Year’s actually use a lunisolar calendar, one that takes into account both the sun and the moon in its calculations.

2) Chinese New Year, though it is the most well-known Asian holiday by Westerners, does not fall on the same date as other lunar new year holidays in other Asian countries, though they may fall around the same date. Some countries and cultures (like in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand), do not celebrate LNY this time of year at all, but later in April to coincide with their harvest season.

For 2011, LNY falls on the following dates for these countries & peoples. (This is not a comprehensive list, so if you want to add any, please comment!)

Chinese New Year – Feb 3rd
Vietnamese New Year (Tết) – Feb 2nd
Cambodian New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey) April 13th – 16th
Laotian New Year (Bpee Mai) April 13th -15th
Thai New Year (Songkran) April 13th – 15th
Korean New Year (Seollnal) – Feb 2nd – 4th
Tibetan New Year (Losar) – March 5th
Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar) – Feb 3rd
Hmoung New Year (southeast Asia)
Tamil (Puthandu) (in Sri Lanka) – April 13th
Sinhalese (in Sri Lanka) – April 13th
Ugadi (in India) – April 4th
Guid Padwa (in India) – April 4th
Bengali New Year (Pohela Boishakh) – April 14th

3) Japan officially stopped recognizing the Lunar New Year during the Meiji Restoration, switching to the solar calendar in 1873. Culturally, however, LNY traditions are still celebrated.

4) Non-Asian cultures also celebrate Lunar New Year’s too: such as Hellenic, Hebrew (Rosh Hashanah) and Islamic (Al-Hijra).

Lunar New Year has a long tradition in the US as well. Check out these vintage photographs of Chinese-Americans celebrating in the 1800s and early 1900s in California.

Image courtesy of the Online Archive of California. Click for source.

Image courtesy of Online Archive of California. Click for source.

“A Busy Corner at New Year’s” Image courtesy of the Online Archives of California. Click for source.

Festival in Chinatown in 1906. Image courtesy of the Online Archives of California. Click for source.

Festival in Chinatown in 1906. Image courtesy of the Online Archives of California. Click for source.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Lunar New Year’s: A Global Perspective

  1. Jha

    OK, that is a pretty bad-assed steampunk cat that wins over the cog rabbit.

  2. Metal cat, huh? So basically it’s Year of Voltron in China. That rules.

  3. Pingback: Happy Tết, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year | Beyond Victoriana