Chinese New Year 2023 – Animal, Dates, Meaning & Celebrations

2022 was the Year of the Water Tiger, a turbulent year full of conflicting events, tense situations, and much turmoil, but the Water Rabbit will deliver an entirely different year compared to this one.

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, the Chinese New Year 2023 or the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) is celebrated on January 22, 2023. The Year of the Rabbit has also been celebrated in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, and 1927.

Most Rabbit years are quiet, positive, and inspiring, and 2023 will be heading in that direction – a welcomed change after the hectic and rather dramatic Tiger year.

What Do You Need To Do to Get Lucky in 2023?

According to the Chinese horoscope 2023, family, diplomacy and personal development will be emphasized this year. The arts and culture sector will be very busy, generating famous artworks and exhibitions throughout the year. Love, romance, and family life are emphasized leading to a renewal of feelings for loved ones.

Furthermore, the Rabbit is in close connection with nature, which means that environmental protection issues will be in the spotlight around the world. Alternative energy sources and ecology will also be highlighted.

The Year of the Rabbit is auspicious for the family and its relationships, being an ideal year for marriage or the birth of a child.

The Origin and History of Chinese New Year

According to many ancient tales and legends, it has been said that the first Chinese New Year came about after a fight with a mythical creature. Long ago a lion-like monster came to torment local villagers devouring crops, livestock, and even children. The creature’s name was Nian, which is also the Chinese word for the year.

In order to combat the evil monster, the villagers made loud noises using drums and firecrackers. Once the villagers learned that Nian feared the color red, they took to hanging red lanterns and scrolls on their doors. Eventually, Nian was conquered and the villagers were saved. Since then, the anniversary of this victory was celebrated every year.

Another legend related to this holiday involves the Buddha. According to this tale, Buddha asked all the animals to gather and meet him on Chinese New Year. As it happened only twelve of the animals came. In honor of these animals, he named a year after each one. From then on there would be a year of the rat, year of the ox, tiger, year of the rabbit, dragon, year of the snake, horse, sheep or goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

This holiday is celebrated in countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and Mauritius, but also in Europe, Australia, New Zeeland, America, and Canada, especially in the areas with a big Chinese community.

Lunar New Year 2023 Calendar

The Chinese calendar is not like the Gregorian calendar, the first day of Chinese New Year starts with the new moon, which appears between January 21 and February 20, and the last day known as the Lantern festival celebrated with night lantern displays, ends 15 days later on the full moon.

New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve are celebrated with family. Traditionally, family celebrations were religious affairs, given in honor of the household and ancestors.

Chinese New Year 2023 Celebration

The most important religious ritual was the sacrifice to the ancestors. Loved ones, and dearly departed are remembered with the greatest respect, as they are responsible for the present and future good family fortune.

The family celebration on New Year’s Eve is known as the “surrounding the stove” or weilu. This comprises of a dinner arranged for the spirits of the ancestors, together with the living and represents past and present, and one strong community.

The most important New Year custom is for married couples to give lucky money called ‘lay-see’ to unmarried relatives, especially children.

‘Lay-see’ is a red packet containing ‘lucky money’ which people believe will bring luck to both the receiver and giver.

Older family members must also give lucky money to all those who are younger in the family, including those who are married. Kung hei fat choy!

Why Does The Lunar New Year Date Change?

The Chinese New Year is based on a lunar year instead of a fixed number of days. Each month the moon comes back as a new moon on a different date. On average about 29.53 days. So some months will be 29 and others will be 30 days long. 12 lunar months will take 354.36 days, short of the 365 days in a solar year.

To fix this the Chinese added an extra month every third year. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the month is marked by the dark moon. The new year starts on a new moon. A full moon occurs in the middle of the month.

Chinese New Year Dates 2019–2042

Chinese New Year DateChinese Animal YearYear Name
Jan 25 2020Metal RatGeng-Zi
Feb 12 2021Metal OxXin-Chou
Feb 01 2022Water TigerRen-Yin
Jan 22 2023Water RabbitGui-Mao
Feb 10 2024Wood DragonJai-Chen
Jan 29 2025Wood SnakeYi-Si
Feb 17 2026Fire HorseBing-Wu
Feb 06 2027Fire SheepDing-Wei
Jan 26 2028Earth MonkeyWu-Shen
Feb 13 2029Earth RoosterJi-You
Feb 03 2030Metal DogGeng-Xu
Jan 23 2031Metal PigXin-Hai
Feb 11 2032Water RatRen-Zi
Jan 31 2033Water OxGui-Chou
Feb 19 2034Wood TigerJai-Yin
Feb 08 2035Wood RabbitYi-Mao
Jan 28 2036Fire DragonBing-Chen
Feb 15 2037Fire SnakeDing-Si
Feb 04 2038Earth HorseWu-Wu
Jan 24 2039Earth SheepJi-Wei
Feb 12 2040Metal MonkeyGeng-Shen
Feb 01 2041Metal RoosterXin-You
Jan 22 2042Water DogRen-Xu

Spring Festival: The 15 days of the Lunar New Year

Day one – January 23, 2023

The first day of the Chinese New Year celebration encompasses the welcoming of the deities.  Most people (Buddhists especially) will refrain from eating meat on this day because they believe it will help ensure longevity.  Campfires and the usage of knives are considered harbingers of bad luck on New Year’s Day, so every piece of food is cooked the day before.  Firecrackers and fireworks are both extremely popular, but they are banned in some locations.  To counteract this, many government cities (like Hon Kong) launch large-scale fireworks that can be seen from far away to substitute the experience.

Day two :

The second day is for birth parents to be visited by their married daughters.  Chinese New Year traditions give an exception, as these daughters are usually not allowed to visit their birth parents.  The Chinese will pray to all their gods and ancestors on this day, as well as show exceeding kindness to all dogs (since the second day is believed to be the birthday of all dogs).  Business people (though only of the Cantonese dialect group) will hold a prayer called “Hoi Nin”, which is believed to bless all with good luck.

Days three and four are generally not good days to visit relatives or socialize with friends, since it is known as “chi kou”, or the day of “red mouth” or “the God of Blazing Wrath”. 

The fifth day is the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth.  It is also a part of the Chinese New Year tradition to shoot off firecrackers in an attempt to gain the attention of Guan Yu, which will bring good fortune and favor for the year. 

Days six to ten: The Chinese are now free to visit their loved ones, and pray for good fortune in the temples.

The seventh day is the birthday of the common man, and it is on this day that many Chinese people get together to toss colorful salads and wish for prosperity and wealth.

Day eight: Prayers are sent at midnight from the Fujian people to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven.

Day nine: Offerings are made to the Jade Emperor.

Days 10 to 12: Invites are sent to friends and relatives, to visit for dinner.

Day 13: Simple foods are eaten so as to detox after rich foods from friends and relatives.

Day 14: Time is taken for preparation for the Lantern Festival celebration on the 15th night.

While the daily customs continue to the fifteenth day, almost all of the Chinese New Year Traditions involve happiness, longevity, and wealth.  Windows and doors are decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets.  Food generally includes chicken, ducks, and pigs. 

Red envelopes are passed as money and small gifts, which are gestures of health and fortune.  The celebration is generally seen as an amazing way to forgive people of grudges, sincerely wish happiness and peace, and reconcile.

Kung Hei Fat Choy 2023 – May You Be Happy and Prosperous

During the Lunar New Year festive period, when people meet friends, relatives, colleagues, and even strangers, they usually say Kung Hei Fat Choi!”It is the Cantonese meaning of “May you be happy and prosperous”

Kung Hei Fat Choy 2023

Typically, this phrase is used in new-year greetings, like “Sum nin fai lok, gong hei fa choy 2023! (Wish you a happy and prosperous new year) !”

In Mandarin, this famous traditional greeting for Chinese New Year is “Gong xi fa cai!”.

More greetings and wishes:

  • “gong hei fat choy” which translates roughly to “congratulations on your good fortune/ hope you get rich
  •  “Guo Nian Hao” –  Happy New Year!
  • “Xin Nian Kuai le wan shi ru yi Xin”- Happy New Year and may all go well with you.
  • “Xin nian kuaile, he jia xing fu” – Happy New Year and wish you a happy family.
  • Kai gong da ji 2023- Good Luck in 2023!
  • Bai tian gong 2023 – means “praying to the Heaven God.” The Heaven God refers to the Jade Emperor, who is the ruler of Heaven in Taoist mythology.