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From the zodiac to celebrations: This is your guide to Lunar New Year

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Some two billion people around the world will soon celebrate Lunar New Year — including many in Australia.

From when it starts to how it’s celebrated, here’s what to know:

When is Lunar New Year in 2024?

Lunar New Year is based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, which follows the phases of the moon and the position of the sun in the sky.
Because of this cyclical dating, the beginning of the 15-day celebration can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February

This year, Lunar New Year’s Eve is 9 February.

Some two billion people will celebrate Lunar New Year. Source: Getty / Tamati Smith

Lunar New Year is observed widely across East Asia and different countries and cultures will mark it differently, though there is a general theme of togetherness.

It’s also known by different names in different countries. In China it is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival; in Vietnam, Tết; in South Korea, Seollal; and Indonesia, Imlek.

Which zodiac animal will be celebrated?

There are , each named after an animal and assigned to a year in 12-year cycles.
In 2024, we will say goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit and hello to the Year of the Dragon.
The Dragon is associated with strength. It’s said those belonging to the sign of the Dragon (born in 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952 and 1940) tend to work well with others but are prone to overthinking.
Feng shui master Sean Wong gave his predictions to SBS Cantonese on what the Year of the Dragon could bring for each sign. You can .
Twelve Chinese Lunar New Year Zodiac symbols in gold are set against a red background.

There are 12 signs in the Chinese zodiac, each named after an animal and assigned to a year in 12-year cycles. Source: Getty, iStockphoto / Tatianazaets

How is Lunar New Year celebrated?

Traditions can vary by country, but there are some common themes.
These include spending time with friends and family, gathering for meals, exchanging money or gifts, and paying respects to ancestors.
“On New Year’s Day, everybody sets out a meal for their deceased ancestors, pays their respects to them, and offers them drinks,” Dr Craig Smith, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, , referring to celebrations in South Korea.
People standing outside. In the background is a building and a dragon illuminated with coloured lights

Lanterns and light installations illuminate the city walls during a rehearsal of the Spring Festival Light Show on 1 February in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province of China. Source: Getty / VCG

With the Year of the Dragon a symbol of good fortune, it’s also believed there could be a baby boom.

China’s population , and while some experts say there might be a rise, they also believe it won’t reverse the trend.

“Childbearing is still a big decision, involving extensive considerations,” Assistant Professor Mu Zheng, a sociologist studying China’s fertility at the National University of Singapore, told The Straits Times newspaper. “The auspicious connotations of the Year of the Dragon may motivate those who intend to have children to act on it, but for those who are reluctant, it may not be very effective.”

Lunar New Year is marked in Australia too, with Sydney’s celebrations considered to be the largest outside Australia.
From lion dances to fireworks displays and delicious food, you can .
Confetti falls from the ceiling of a shopping center as people celebrate.

A dance troupe performs an acrobatic lion dance as part of Lunar New Year celebrations at Market City in Chinatown, Sydney in 2022. Source: AAP / Steven Saphore

Common Lunar New Year greetings

In Cantonese: Gong hei fat choy (meaning: wishing you great happiness and prosperity).
In Mandarin: Gong xi fa ca (pronounced: gong she fa tsa; meaning: wishing you great happiness and prosperity).
In Vietnamese: Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (pronounced: chuk moon num ‘moy; meaning: Happy New Year).

In Korean: 새해 복 많이 받으세요 (pronounced: sae-hae bok man-i ba-deu-se-yo; meaning: please receive a lot of luck in the New Year).

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