Celebrate Lunar New Year on 12 February

Lunar New Year oxen and fireworks

So, it is out with 2020, and in with 2021.  Out with Trump and in with Biden.  Out with the Rat and in with the Ox.  Who said there was nothing written in the stars?

The Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is a festival celebrated from the first new moon of the lunar calendar, and ending at the first full moon of the lunar calendar.  This year the day of celebration falls on 12 February measured by Western calendars.

The festival is known by different names across Asia: in China, it is Chūn Jié; in Korea, Seollal, in Vietnam, Tết; and in Tibet, Losar.

In all countries, it is recognised as the Spring Festival

Sweeping out the old

Preparations for the Lunar New Year typically start a month in advance of the actual festival.  It is a time for families to meet, eat, sweep out the bad luck of the previous year and pray for good fortune in the year to come. The festival is celebrated by dance, gifts, traditional games and costumes, and fireworks.

By most people’s reckoning, the last year can be viewed as one with more than its fair share of ills to be swept away, overshadowed by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, Coronavirus is no respecter of commemorative dates, and seems set to follow us into the new Lunar Year, too.  And, with New Year celebrations traditionally being a time of large population migrations, there is the danger that the festivities may only serve to further spread the virus.

Lessons from an ox

In the Chinese zodiacal cycle, 2021 is the year of the Ox.  The Ox is traditionally associated with attributes of hard work, honesty and positivity.

With the world urgently needing to unite to tackle some of its most pressing global concerns––the pandemic; climate change; world inequality; poverty; social injustice; racism––it could do well to learn to adopt some of these worthy attributes of the Ox.  A little hard work, honesty and positivity can go a very long way.

Find out more

• Check out the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at SOAS
• Discover Development Studies programmes researching Sustainable Development Goals 
• Study Climate Change at SOAS
• Find out more about SOAS and COVID-19

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