A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Happy Lunar New Year, Highlanders!

By Jordan Driscoll '23 |

January 22 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year, is an annual holiday celebrating the second new moon after the winter solstice. Lunar New Year is commonly celebrated in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Mongolia, although individuals all around the world take part in its traditions and festivities.

Chinese New Year is traditionally a time used to honor deities and ancestors, as well as an occasion to feast and spend time with family members. While customs and traditions vary depending on culture and regionality, common activities include having a meal with family on New Year’s Eve, gifting red packets, lighting firecrackers and fireworks, as well as watching lion and dragon dances. Red packets, otherwise known as “lai see” in Cantonese, or “hóng bāo” in Mandarin, are gifted on Chinese New Year as a symbolic wish for good fortune and wealth in the new year. The packets often contain money, or small candies.

Lunar New Year is rich with thousands of years of history, and there are several varying stories regarding the origin of certain traditions. One of the origin stories tells the tale of a monster named “Nian” or Year, which attacked villagers every new year. The monster was frightened by bright lights and explosions, as well as the color red. The firecrackers commonly lit on Lunar New Year are representative of the methods used to scare away the monster. On Lunar New Year, it is also traditional to eat mooncakes, a Chinese pastry commonly filled with a sweet or savory filling and an intricate decorative appearance. 

2023 is the year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac. There are 12 animals within the Chinese Zodiac: oxen, tigers, snakes, dogs, horses, dragons, goats, pigs, rabbits, rats, roosters and monkeys. Each animal symbolizes different strengths and characteristics. The Year of the Rabbit represents longevity, peace, and prosperity within Chinese culture.

To wish others a happy Chinese New Year, you can say “Gong hei fat choy,” in Cantonese, or “Gong xi fai cai,” (pronounced Gong she fa tsai) in Mandarin.

The UCR Business wishes all Highlanders good health and fortune in the Year of the Rabbit!