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How is Lunar New Year different from the Chinese and Solar New Year?

How is Lunar New Year different from the Chinese and Solar New Year?

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Astrid Tran 17 Apr 2023 4 min read

Can you distinguish between Lunar New Year, Solar New Year and Chinese New Year?

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Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year

There is a current argument about why 2023’s traditional zodiac differs from different cultures. They call it the Year of the Rabbit in China, while in Vietnam, the Cat is the inspiration. To answer this puzzle, we must go further to the roots behind it, Lunar Calendar and Lunar New Year. The notion of the Lunar New Year might confuse people with Chinese New Year as it all indicates the start of the year in a lunar calendar and Spring festival, especially for people from foreign cultures.

This article will give you a new insight into the differences between Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year, plus a comparison between Lunar New Year and Solar New Year.

Misunderstanding of Lunar New Year

So, what does Lunar New Year mean? It is a general name for the traditional New Year in oriental cultures for some East and Southeast countries using the lunar calendar since ancient times. It is a festival to celebrate the beginning of the year according to the lunar calendar and lasts for the following 15 days until the full moon.

Chinese New Year can be an interchangeable term for Lunar New year for Chinese people not only in China but also for all oversea Chinese communities from around the world. Similar Lunar New Year has a specific name for countries like Vietnamese New Year, Japanese New Year, Korean New Year, and more.

In particular, it can be a huge mistake if you call Vietnamese New Year by Chinese New Year and vice versa, but you can call it Lunar New Year for both countries. The misunderstanding might originate from the fact that their cultures were historically influenced by Chinese culture, especially Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

How does Lunar New Year differ from the Chinese New Year?

Lunar New Year follows the Zodiac cycle repeated every 12 years; for example, this year – 2023, is the year of the Cat (Chinese culture), so the next will be 2036. Most importantly, people from the zodiac sign probably share similar personalities. How about you? Do you know what your Zodiac is?

There are two unique points on the Vietnamese zodiac signs as it honours the Cat and Buffalo in the light of the Rabbit and the Ox, respectively. For example, the Lunar calendar new year 2021 is the year of the OX. The traditional cuisine of Vietnamese New Year is a square sticky rice cake (Banh Chung). In addition, they prefer to decorate their houses with peach blossom trees, yellow plum flowers, or kumquat.

In Korea, people celebrate their New Year by enjoying Tteokguk (rice cake soup), Galbi Jjim (braised short ribs), and Jeon (Korean pancakes). It is common to see people dressed in a traditional Hanbok costume, and juniors have to kneel, bow deeply, and fold their hands to wish the elders a healthy and happy new year.

There are many more interesting facts about other countries celebrating Lunar New Year that you can explore by yourself. And if you want to learn more about the Chinese New Year, let’s start with the trivial quiz: 20 Chinese New Year Questions & Answers right away.

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How does Lunar New Year differ from the Solar New Year?

You have the universal New Year that follows the Gregorian calendar, celebrating the start of a year on January 1st each year. Lunar New Year follows the lunar calendar. How about Solar New Year?

In many South and Southeast areas, there exists a less popular festival that not many people notice called Solar New Year, which originated in the Indian cultural sphere and is rooted in Buddhism, dates back to 3,500 years ago as a celebration to wish the rich harvest. The Solar New Year, or Mesha Sankranti follows the Hindu lunar calendar than the Solar calendar (or Gregorian calendar), which coincides with the rising of Aries, and usually takes place in mid-April. Countries that are inspired by this festival.India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, and more.

The Water Festival is the most famous Solar New Year ritual. For example, Thai people like to hold the event in urban streets with water fights, attracting tourists worldwide.

Songkran Festival – Solar New Year – Source:

Key Takeaways

New Year is always the best time to strengthen relationships with your family or friends, whether Lunar New Year, Chinese New year, or Solar New Year. Set aside traditions and rituals; there are many ways to ring the New Year in the most joyful and healthy activities, such as interactive games and quizzes, even if you currently stay far away from your beloved ones.

Try AhaSlides right away to download a free Lunar New Year trivia quiz for your best New Year’s icebreakers and games.

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