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The Year of the Rabbit: The Lunar New Year and what it means

The Year of the Rabbit: Lunar New Year
The Year of the Rabbit: Lunar New Year 02:35

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Lunar New Year officially starts today and it's one of the biggest holidays in Asia. 

It's a time for celebrating life, family, health, wealth, and multi-generational traditions. 

It is also celebrated in a lot of American cities, including here in Pittsburgh. 

The Lunar New Year, or as may know it, the Chinese New Year, is not just a one-day celebration like how we ring in the new year at midnight on January 1. 

It's a multi-day celebration meant to ring in the spring season, which is why it's also called "Chunjie" or "Spring Festival." 

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the lunar calendar starts with the first new moon usually at the end of January.

This year's Lunar New Year starts on Sunday, January 22, and spans 15 days until the full moon.

Every day celebrates something different like the birthdays of the zodiac animals, and each day has its own traditions filled with food, wealth, family, and remembrance.

"The Chinese Lunar New Year is a time of reunion for everyone to come together," said Sunny Yang from the Chinese Association for Science and Technology in Pittsburgh. "It's also a time to celebrate and to reflect, to sing of the joys of the start of next year, and light the path so we can go forward."

Some of the traditions include calligraphy, red money envelopes, and lucky Chinese knots. 

And we can't forget the copious amount of food like long-life noodles, dumplings, sweet rice balls, and oranges for good luck.

It all ends on the fifteenth day with the lantern festival signifying the first night of the full moon.

"Traditionally we like to light the paper lanterns, so the paper lanterns can light the pathway in front of us," Yang said. 

Each year in the Lunar calendar is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals, and this year will be the year of the rabbit symbolizing longevity, peace, and prosperity.

More than two billion people are expected to travel for this year's celebration, which is still a fraction of pre-pandemic levels. 

Here in Pittsburgh, our local chapter of the Organization for Chinese Americans will be holding its Lunar New Year banquet gala on Saturday, February 11. 

I will be the emcee and all proceeds will go toward their work in the community which includes free medical and dental clinics, voter registration, cultural dance programs, and more.  

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