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Explore books, streaming videos, databases, and more from the SCC library and learn about Lunar New Year.

What is Lunar New Year?

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year, Chinese Chunjie, Vietnamese Tet, Korean Solnal, Tibetan Losar, also called Spring Festival,  festival typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries that begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, so the dates of the holiday vary slightly from year to year, beginning some time between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Approximately 10 days before the beginning of the new lunar year, houses are thoroughly cleaned to remove any bad luck that might be lingering inside, a custom called “sweeping of the grounds.” Traditionally, New Year’s eve and New Year’s day are reserved for family celebrations, including religious ceremonies honouring ancestors. Also on New Year’s day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night colourful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served.

The origins of the Lunar New Year festival are thousands of years old and are steeped in legends. One legend is that of Nian, a hideous beast believed to feast on human flesh on New Year’s day. Because Nian feared the colour red, loud noises, and fire, red paper decorations were pasted to doors, lanterns were burned all night, and firecrackers were lit to frighten the beast away.

"Lunar New Year." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 6 Feb. 2023.

Red lanterns hanging from trees during Lunar New Year celebrations in Beijing

Lunar New Year. undefined. Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 19 Oct. 2023.

Browse books and ebooks from the SCC Library

Chinese New Year

From its beginnings as a farming celebration marking the end of winter to its current role as a global party featuring good food, lots of gifts and public parades, Chinese New Year is a snapshot of Chinese culture. Award-winning author and broadcaster Jen Sookfong Lee recalls her childhood in Vancouver and weaves family stories into the history, traditions and evolution of Chinese New Year. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs throughout.

Spring Festival

'The Spring Festival' is the most important day for Chinese people. It truly creates a carnival for unification of family members and for celebration at the end of a year. This book introduces the origin, development, and traditions of 'The Spring Festival,' and it offers readers a panoramic view of this unique Chinese festival. The book - written as an English-Chinese bilingual text - tells the stories behind the festival's name and covers nearly every aspect of the festival. 

Happy, Happy Chinese New Year!

"In a book that is itself a celebration, Demi explains the rituals and ideas behind the Chinese New Year festival. The last 15 days of the old year are spent cleaning and preparing ('Wash your hair and get a new haircut. Pay the debts that you owe and collect what is owed to you!'). On the eve of the new moon, a special feast is prepared. . . . The first 15 days of the new year are spent celebrating with lion dances, firecrackers, and other activities.

Library Databases For Researching Lunar New Year and Related Topics

Find articles, images, and more in these library databases. 

General Research Resources

Chinese New Year: Streaming Video Series

Watch the 3 part series: Chinese New Year

Video screenshot: Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is one of the biggest events on the planet and every year a sixth of the world’s population travels home to celebrate with their families. Based in the heart of Beijing, this eye-opening series offers a front-seat view of one of the most spectacular events on Earth. Each episode explores a different side to this celebration, from Beijing West train station where eight million passengers a day squeeze onto trains to take them thousands of miles home, to Xinfadi food market where families, restaurants and businesses stock up for the all-important New Year Feast, to Beijing’s stunning Temple of Earth, where thousands of families visit to pray for happiness and good luck amidst a cacophony of fireworks.