Celebrating New Year

What are some of the differences observed in celebrating New Year in Sydney among some communities?  Is the New Year celebrated on the same day, what are some of the celebrations and what are some inherent beliefs? 

New Year – 2023

When does a new year start? 

Most of us live by the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the earth’s movement around the sun.  Although the Gregorian calendar is used globally for civil purposes, other calendars are still observed in many communities around the world. 

Using the Gregorian calendar in Sydney, the start of the New Year is the same day each year.  December 31 is the last day of the Old Year, while January 1 marks the first day of the New Year. 

The Lunar New Year, celebrated in China and many Asian cultures, is based on a lunisolar calendar which tracks time by both lunar and solar cycles.  Celebrating the arrival of spring, a New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice on December 21.  

Each year the Lunar New Year falls on a different date on the Gregorian calendar, usually sometime between January 21 and February 20.  In 2023, the Chinese New Year took place on Sunday, January 22.

Sydney Fireworks Display

The Chinese calendar is still observed among various Chinese communities around the world. It is used to determine festival dates, such as Lunar New Year and auspicious dates, such as wedding dates. It is also used to determine Moon phases because it follows the Moon.

The Celebration

While the official dates for the New Year vary by culture, those celebrating consider it the time of the year to reunite with immediate and extended family.  There is the longstanding tradition of starting the New Year off with a bang, that includes blowing noisy horns, ringing bells and setting off fireworks. Shopping for holiday sundries and cleaning the house are also beloved traditions.

A New Year carries love and hope, signifies family and friend kinship, and promises a better year ahead.

Lion Dancing

In line with the Gregorian calendar, the New Year Eve Sydney experience is held on December 31.  It is heralded as one of the earliest and best New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world.  Held on and around the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, dubbed the “coat hanger”, it is a key central attraction for the fireworks display.  A display that can be viewed from land and water. 

Commonly known as the Spring Festival in China, the Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day celebration culminating with the Lantern Festival on February 5th, 2023.  The festival is marked by many traditions.  At home, families decorate windows with red paper cuttings and adorn doors with couplets expressing auspicious wishes for the New Year.  The Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is the highlight that kicks off the holiday, a feast with a spread of symbolic dishes, representing abundance, good luck and fortune.

The Rabbit

Sydney hosts many events from 18 January through to mid-February, celebrating its Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Korean communities Spring Festival.  These activities include street parades, lion dancing, huge lanterns, pop-up markets, art installations and plenty of delicious food.

The Beliefs

The Cat

Many cultures assign signs to the 12 specific constellations of the zodiac that the sun passes through.  Each person’s particular sign of the zodiac is the one that the sun was in when they were born.  According to the Chinese and some Asian calendars, the year you were born might determine your personality. Each year is represented by an animal, called a zodiac sign, and legend has it that people born under that sign have similar traits to the animal.

The Mousedeer

This zodiac practice is prevalent in many cultures.  2023 is the year of the rabbit in the Chinese zodiac, the year of the cat in the Vietnamese and Gurung (Central Nepal) zodiac, and the year of the mousedeer in the Malay zodiac.

Do some research to see which zodiac sign is assigned to your birth year and contemplate if that assigned animal reflects your personality. 

However you celebrated the beginning of 2023, we hope it heralded special family time and significant optimism for the year ahead. 

Happy New Year!

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