SAN FRANCISCO -- The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is based on cycles of the moon and falls on a different day every year. It marks the start of a new lunar calendar and it is a celebration of the arrival of spring.
The Year of the Rabbit for 2023 will be the first Lunar New Year celebrated in California as an official state holiday. It's the first time anywhere in the U.S. this has been done for the Asian community, an act by California to show its solidarity with the Asian American community through the wave of anti-Asian hate and violence that grew after the COVID-10 pandemic.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill declaring Lunar New Year as a state holiday. In his signing message, he wrote that this act, "... acknowledges the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California and provides an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the significance of the Lunar New Year."
So what does the Year of the Rabbit hold in store for us and what are some unusual characteristics about this year?
"This year will bring prosperity, hope and calm because of the rabbit's characteristics, we can expect relaxation, quietness and contemplation," Dottie Li, Voice and Voice Coach of Rosetta Stone Mandarin says.
Here are three unusual facts about Lunar New Year 2023:
It is a "Black Rabbit" year
The cycle of 12 Chinese Zodiac animals rotate each lunar new year, with the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water rotating on its own cycle.
Each year, a unique animal and element combination is presented. That special combination is thought to bring unique qualities and symbolism to the year. It takes 60 years for the same combination to present itself again.
This year, we are in a "Water Rabbit" year, which is also known as a "Black Rabbit".
But why Black?
"In Chinese traditional culture, the color of water is actually black. That's why it's "Black Rabbit", but also water means fortune and this year, you're going to have plenty of fortune," Li says.
Double Springs this lunar year
Approximately every three years, a leap month (13th month) is added to the lunar calendar (of typically 12 moons in a cycle) to remain in sync with the solar calendar, resulting in two springs in a lunar year cycle when that happens.
When that happens, it is considered in Chinese culture to be double the luck and happiness that year.
Extra long lunar year
The start of what is considered the Lunar New Year holidays or the official Spring Festival, the name of the 15 day celebration, begins on Jan. 22, 2023. The next Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon 2024, will start on Feb. 10, 2024.
This is due to the extra month added to the Chinese calendar every two to three years to catch up with the solar calendar.
This results in the Lunar New Year falling on a different date every year and for next year, a much later date than in 2023.