Lunar New Year is Near: Year of the Rabbit 2023

Dec 21, 2022

By Evangeline Dai, Ministry Coordinator

If you notice that the Lenten Season this year will happen earlier, let me tell you, the Lunar New Year also falls earlier this year. Lunar New Year, also called Spring Festival, is the first day of the East Asian Lunar calendar year. Based on Lunar calendar, the date will be different every year. The first day of the Year of Rabbit will start on January 22, 2023 of the Solar Calendar.

Yes! It happens to be on a Sunday this year, so you may plan something different on that particular Sunday. The Catholic church has a Mass liturgy for Lunar New Year, and in the Chinese Lutheran Book of Worship published by Augsburg Fortress, Chinese New Year is listed in Lesser Festivals. The readings for the day are Ecclesiates 3:1-13, Psalm 8, Revelation 21:1-6s, and Matthew 25:31-46; the liturgical color is Red – for it’s a traditional festival color for Lunar New Year which means good fortune and blessings.

Some hymns in our Lutheran hymnals from Asian countries that celebrate Lunar New Year:

  • ELW 158 – Kyrie, Lim Swee Hong
  • ELW 198 – O Lamb of God, Mabel Wu
  • ELW 566 – When Twilight Comes, Filipino
  • ELW738 – God Created Heaven and Earth, Taiwanese
  • ELW 852 – Golden Breaks the Dawn, Chinese
  • ACS 965 – The Rice of Life, music by I-to-Loh
  • ACS 1072 – Abba, Abba, Hear Us, Korean traditional
  • ACS 1076 – Search Me, O God, text and music by I-to-Loh

Although the Lunar New Year is known as Chinese New Year, many other countries also have a celebration, including Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, etc., and immigrants from those countries all over the world. Thus, the term “Lunar New Year” is more inclusive.

However, note that there are other people who also celebrate their New Year based on Lunar Calendar, but their first day of the years may fall in different season. For instance: The Islamic Lunar New Year is also called Arabic New Year or Hijri New Year, is first day of Muharram Month. Jewish celebrate Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה‬), literally meaning the “head [of] the year” is the Jewish Lunar New Year which happens in early Autumn. Next Islamic New Year is on July 19, 2023 and next Jewish New Year is on the Sunset of September 15, 2023.

On the Lunar New Year’s Eve, Asian family members near and far are gathered at a round table to have a feast. The round table Represent perfect, fulfillment, and union, etc.

Typical Lunar New Year food: Fried spring rolls (aka Egg rolls; “Lumpia” in some Southeast Asian countries) and Dumplings (Northern people). They represent wealth because the shape and color make them look like money. See below photos for the comparison.

Jewish spring festival is known as Passover. In both Exodus and Ezekiel, the Hebrew month of Aviv — later renamed Nisan — is referred to as the beginning of the year or as the first month of the year. As Chinese New Year comes near, homes are decorated in red, a practice traced back to the story of a Chinese New Year monster who roamed around eating children and livestock. But the monster will avoid the houses that have red cloth or scrolls on their doorposts. Sound familiar? Some people compare it to the Passover tradition that the lamb’s blood was put on the doorpost and the lintel of the home.