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Lunar New Year: What the Year of the Rabbit means to me

  • Posted on January 18, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Lunar New Year: What the Year of The Rabbit means to me

Lunar New Year is approaching! Jan. 22, 2023 marks New Year’s Day and kicks off the year of the Rabbit. During this time, Chinatowns all over the world will be filled with beautiful lanterns, red ornaments, massive firecrackers, and energetic lion dance performances. Be sure to spend quality time with your family, to care for your dear friends, and to eat lots of food with your loved ones.

Now, you might wonder why Lunar New Year is not just celebrated on Jan. 1. This is because the Chinese have been using a celestial calendar instead of a Gregorian calendar to determine the start and end date of the New Year’s ceremonies based on the moon cycles, as the name suggests. Celebrations will typically start from New Year’s Eve when the new lunar cycle starts till 15 days thereafter when a full moon appears, also known as the Lantern Festival. Therefore, depending on the position of the moon, the exact date of New Year’s Day varies every year but mostly occurs between January and February.

This year is represented by the Rabbit, which means that it will bring longevity, peace and prosperity. To understand the significance of the zodiac sign, we have to go back to the legend of the Great Race. The story explains that the Jade Emperor set up a race where all animals had to compete to reach the other side of the river. The first 12 animals to have crossed the finish line would be revered in the Chinese culture for the rest of time and make up the Chinese zodiac cycle (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig).

Following this repeating order, every year is represented by one of the 12 animals of which the characteristics of its living habits symbolizes the personality of the people born in that year. For that reason, the ones born in the year of the Rabbit (2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1939, …) are portrayed to be vigilant and self-protective as well as pure and loyal. Tough, their kind character should not be taken in contempt as they are also courageous, quick-minded, and will do anything to reach their goal.

Since Lunar New Year is the biggest festival for the Chinese community, I have always celebrated it in close company with my family. I would start by spending the afternoon on New Year’s Eve with a massive cleanup of the whole house. As it is believed that the cleaner the living space, the brighter the next year would be, you could imagine the rush I was in to make the entire house spotless.

While I was busy scrubbing my way into a fruitful new year, my mom would cook an entire feast with meals that all have a symbolic meaning to it. Noodles signify a long life due to their length; dumplings stand for wealth as they resemble silver ingots and gold bars; fish symbolize prosperity as its pronunciation of the Chinese character sounds similar; and many more. At some point, laughter and chatting would fill the space as the older generation started sharing stories from back in the day. Ultimately, New Year’s Day would start with a big bang by lighting firecrackers, leaving a red trail in front of the house resembling luck. Once the morning hits, children would receive two red envelopes per family filled with money to wish them welfare.

Reflecting on the previous year, I am grateful to be part of Avanade. I have seen initiatives being picked up and received enthusiastically by employees relating to all sorts of holidays, like Diwali, Black History Month and the Mid-Autumn Festival. As part of the Inclusion & Diversity cross culture team in the Netherlands, I hope to be able to make an impact and encourage everyone to support one another and to keep Avanade an inclusive and diverse company.

In the spirit of the year of the Rabbit, be kind and do good regardless of where you come from, which language you speak or what rituals you follow. To all: Xin Nian Kuai Le, Gong Hei Fat Choy! May all your wishes come true including good fortune and happiness. For all the Rabbits out there, wear your red attire and stay strong to fight the year of Fan Tai Sui.

Jie-Ying Phua

Happy New Year!

January 26, 2023

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