Many Americans know of the Chinese New Year, but it may be more accurate to call the holiday Lunar New Year. The 15-day event isn’t limited to China. Many Asian nations celebrate the Lunar New Year with their own traditions. So before 2018’s Lunar New Year kicks off on February 16th, we want to know: Which countries celebrate Chinese New Year?
The Lunar New Year encompasses celebrations outside China, the most-populated nation on Earth. The Voice of America radio network reported that Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and many other Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year. The Lunar New Year starts on the first new moon of the lunar calendar, and ends during the first full moon 15 days later. So even though the celebration spans countries, the dates on which this holiday is celebrated align frequently, since most participating nations read the lunar calendar in the same way.
Yet, there are differences when it comes to each country’s New Year festivities. As HuffPost reported, Vietnam celebrates Tết Nguyên Đán (Feast of the First Morning of the First Day) and South Korea celebrates Seollal (primarily refers to Eumnyeok Seollal, 음력 설날, Lunar New Year). South Korea’s New Year is only three days, rather than 15 days like in China.
With Seollal falling from February 15th to 17th in 2018, and the Olympics at PyeongChang going from February 9th to the 25th, the nation will be honoring the Lunar New Year and the Olympics at the same time. (In the below video, a Olympic representative of South Korea clarifies that the country celebrates New Year’s Day on January 1st as well as Seollal.)
Tibet, which has a complicated political association with China, has the Tibetan New Year — also known as the Losar Festival. The travel site Tibet Vista notes that throughout history, Tibet integrated certain Chinese calendar holidays into its culture. While they have different cultural and food practices, Tibet’s New Year celebration is 15 days like China’s.
Losar may not always be on the same date as China’s Lunar New Year, but it is usually not far off. And for 2018, both the Tibetan New Year and the Chinese New Year will start on February 16th.
China is far from the only country to ring in the New Year based on the moon’s cycle. So during this Lunar New Year honoring the Year of the Dog, check out the traditions of other Asian countries to maximize your knowledge of this historical occasion.