Here’s what you can expect to see during one of the world’s largest celebrations.

Lunar New Year is celebrated in nearly a dozen countries by over 1.5 billion people. Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar traditional to many east Asian countries, and it can occur any time between mid-January and late February. Ultimately it’s a celebration of family and human connection and a desire to bring prosperity and good fortune into the new year.

As Lunar New Year draws nearer on February 12, 2021, we’d like to explore some of the captivating imagery associated with the holiday.

Lion Dances

The lion dance is a traditional, and highly ornate, dance performed by two people who imitate the powerful movements of a lion on poles. The lion signifies courage, stability and superiority and is meant to chase away evil spirits. The performance is accompanied by music and sometimes even pyrotechnics and smoke that billows from the lion’s mouth.

DID YOU KNOW? Dragon dances serve a similar purpose to lion dances; however, lion dances typically have two performers while dragon dances comprise of nine or more dancers.

Firecrackers & Fireworks

Fireworks are a common sight in most New Year’s celebrations, but they serve a very specific purpose for Lunar New Year. According to legend a monster named Nian would once terrorize villages by destroying homes and eating its inhabitants. One day, the villagers discovered that by setting off firecrackers they were able to scare away the pesky creature.

It’s now tradition to set off firecrackers and fireworks during the two-week celebration of Lunar New Year. Without sign of the creature, people now just enjoy a good light show.

Window Flowers (Paper Art)

The tradition of paper-cut art goes back over 1,000 years. Today, these intricate designs adorn shop windows and homes during special occasion and especially Lunar New Year. Popular themes among these paper-cuts include nature, animals, and other symbols of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity.

DID YOU KNOW? Paper was invented in China around 100 BC.

Red Envelopes

Red envelopes are a very important part of Lunar New Year celebrations. They are traditionally filled with money and gifted from an elder to an unmarried person or child. This custom dates back centuries when coins were gifted as a way to ward off evil spirits.

The Zodiac

The Lunar New Year would be incomplete without the Zodiac. The zodiac is a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs and their ascribed attributes, based on the lunar calendar. In order, the zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.

Folklore says that the order of the zodiac signs is the result of a race involving the 12 animals. The prize was a coveted position on the Chinese Zodiac calendar and he order of the zodiac corresponds to the finishing place of each animal in that race.

Find your zodiac sign below 👇

Thank you for reading our Lunar New Year blog. At FirstBank we are dedicated to celebrating and serving all cultures. Read more about our Diversity, Inclusion and Equity efforts on our About Us page, and check out the rest of our Smart Cents blog content for financial health tips and more community stories like this one.

Thank you!