Yesterday, Sunday 22 January, marked the beginning of Lunar New Year, starting on 22 January 2023 and ending on 9 February 2024. It marks the transition of the Chinese zodiac sign from one animal to the next. After the first new moon of the Lunar calendar each year, communities around the world put up decorations, cook festive food and gather with loved ones to bring in the new year. This year is the “Year of Rabbit”, predicted to be the year of hope. In Chinese culture, the rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity.
The traditions of the Lunar New Year festival date back thousands of years to a popular legend about a mythical beast called Nian. Loud noises, the colour red and fire scared Nian away, so it became a tradition for families to decorate their doors in red paper, set off fireworks and leave lanterns burning all night to bring good luck. Today, red remains a key element of celebrations with people hanging red lanterns in the streets and gifting money in red envelopes.
We asked some of our staff how they plan to celebrate Lunar New Year and what the annual event means to them.
“This is a time of celebration and rest, for families and friends to gather and look forward to a bright and better year ahead. I wish all of you a prosperous year ahead – and be agile and witty as a rabbit!”
– Dr Teresa Leung, Haematologist.
“Wishing all the staff a Happy New Year of the Rabbit – hoping it brings innovative and efficient care, so our patients have speedy recoveries! Gong Xi Fa Cai!”
– Dr David Tran, Director of Paediatrics.
“Chinese New Year is the biggest event for Chinese families. I guess it is similar to Christmas for the West. We often return to our parent’s homes for this celebration which includes a New Year’s Eve banquet. I’m hoping for us all to have a contented, prosperous and peaceful year ahead!”
– A/Prof Wei Qi, Head of Neonatal Unit.
“The Lunar New Year is also called “Spring Festival” as it represents the beginning of the spring season in the Northern Hemisphere. It brings hope, prosperity, and new beginning. If you wish to learn, here is how to say Happy Spring Festival in Mandarin: ‘chūn jiē kuài lè’!”
– Yue Hu, Director of Transcultural and Language Services (TALS) and Aboriginal Support Unit (ASU).
“For the Vietnamese, 2023 is the Year of the Cat, a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity. May 2023 bring good luck and fortune to all.”
– David Le, TALS manager.
We would also like to wish all staff at Northern Health who are celebrating a wonderful Lunar New Year and 2023!