Staff, 2023-01-17 12:07:22,
On Jan. 22, 2023, more than a billion people globally will welcome the Year of the Rabbit – or the Year of Cat, depending on which cultural traditions they follow – as the start of the Lunar New Year. In the New York City public school district, Lunar New Year has been observed as a school holiday since 2015.
The Lunar New Year is sometimes called the Chinese New Year, because it follows a calendar that was developed in China; but it is also celebrated in various parts of Asia, such as Korea and Vietnam. Tibetan and Mongolian cultures follow a similar calendar that will start the Year of the Rabbit about a month later, on Feb. 20.
While this calendar is sometimes just called “lunar,” it adds an extra month every few years to stay in sync with the solar cycle, so it’s technically lunar and solar, or lunisolar. This means that the date of the Lunar New Year in the Gregorian calendar changes from year to year but always falls in January or February. The Gregorian calendar is the solar calendar used today in most parts of the world, including the United States.
As a scholar of East Asian religions, I am familiar with the wide range of lunar and lunisolar calendars used in different religions and cultures, and especially with the religious significance of the East Asian lunisolar calendar.
The lunisolar calendar that developed in China combines two categories: 12 earthly branches, each of which corresponds to an animal, and 10 heavenly stems, each…
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