How to celebrate the Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year in Champaign-Urbana
One of the great things about living in Champaign-Urbana is the bounty of cultures represented here. And what better way to learn about other cultures than to celebrate with them? It seems like we just finished with Jan. 1 New Year celebrations, and now it’s already time for another fun New Year occasion — the Lunar New Year.
The Chinese New Year may be the most well known, but it is also the Korean and Vietnamese New Year. Many East and Southeast Asian cultures celebrate this New Year holiday, which is referred to more universally as the Lunar New Year since it marks the beginning of a year whose months are based on the cycles of the moon. (Technically, it’s a lunisolar calendar — thanks, wikipedia! — because the sequence of lunar months is also aligned with the seasons.)
Fun fact: the Christian holiday of Easter and the Jewish holiday of Passover are also calculated according to lunisolar calendars. Like the Lunar New Year, these holidays fall on a different date in our Gregorian calendar every year, but occur within the same season.
Back to the Lunar New Year, with more fun facts:
1. The Chinese zodiac animal for 2023 is the Rabbit. According to internet astrology, “the Rabbit’s quiet personality hides their confidence and strength. They are steadily moving towards their goal, no matter what negativity others give them.”
2. The Lunar New Year in 2023 falls on Sunday, Jan. 22. It traditionally is celebrated for 16 days starting on the previous evening. There are different traditions for each day of the New Year celebration, and it ends with the Lantern Festival.
3. Red is a popular color for Chinese New Year, as it symbolizes fortune and luck.
4. A traditional gift for children during Chinese New Year, red pockets or 红包 (hóng bāo) are small red envelopes filled with lucky money.
5. The Korean New Year in 2022 is also Jan. 22. The Korean New Year holiday lasts three days.
6. Japan celebrated the Lunar New Year until 1873, when its government decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar. Japan’s many and extensive New Year’s traditions — including ringing the bells of Buddhist temples and sending New Year postcards to friends and family — have centered around Jan. 1 ever since.
Even if you aren’t able to participate in an official Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year celebration in town, here are some fun ways to observe the holiday with your family:
- Taste the cuisine of China, Korea, or Vietnam. Champaign-Urbana has an incredible number of Asian restaurants. Our readers have offered up their favorite places to get Chinese food as well as their favorite restaurants for Korean food.
- Make a craft. One popular item to decorate for Chinese New Year is a Good Luck character banner. Make one with these directions. Or make your own paper lanterns with these directions.
- Check out some books about Lunar New Year at your local library (Champaign Public Library and Urbana Free Library have plenty). Here are some fun picture book recommendations from the New York Public Library to enjoy with your family.
- Have a party. We have previously found Chinese New Year party supplies and decorations at the Savoy Walmart, which tells us that the holiday is more well-known than ever.
In past years our event calendar has featured Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year celebrations in Urbana, Champaign, Mahomet and Monticello. We will add any events to this post as we find out about them, so check back as the holiday approaches.
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Family Fun Night | Lunar New Year Lanterns
Champaign Public Library Time: 6:30 pm - 7:15 pm
Family Fun Night is a weekly evening for games, crafts, STEAM activities, and more especially for families with school-aged kids on Thursdays at 6:30 pm. -------------------------------- Family Fun Night Schedule Jan 19, Lunar New Year Lanterns Jan 26, Snow Much Fun Feb 2, Desk Pets Feb 9, Greyt Readers Feb 16, Sock Hop! Feb 23, Neotropical Frogs Mar 2, Minecraft Selfies Mar 9, Greyt Readers Mar 16, Family Games Night Mar 23, Build a Boat Challenge Mar 30, Cherry Blossom Tree Apr 13, Greyt Readers Apr 20, Earth Day Sun Catchers Apr 27, Origami Frog May 4, Family Fun Nightread more…
Friday, January 20, 2023
Lunar New Year Themed Meal at the University of Illinois
SDRP – Student Dining and Residential Programs Building, Ikenberry Commons Time: 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Please join the Asian American Cultural Center and University Housing to celebrate Lunar New Year! The Asian American Cultural Center partners with University of Illinois dining in presenting an annual Lunar New Year-themed dinner, which includes traditional food and desserts, and encourages student groups to perform as well as interact with students about the holiday. Activities will be at the SDRP first floor lobby (Ikenberry Dining) from 5-6:30pm. A themed dinner menu will be served at the Ikenberry Dining Hall, ISR and LAR. Meal tickets can be purchased at each dining hall with a credit card. Ticket prices set byread more…
Do you know of a Lunar New Year celebration we should add to this list? Please submit it here.