Chinese New Year 2023: How it is celebrated - and what the Year of the Rabbit signifies

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is celebrated over multiple days and marks the beginning of the coming 12 months on the traditional lunisolar calendar.

The occasion is observed by many people of Chinese descent and is also commemorated in other countries across Asia, including South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore.

Here, Sky News takes a look at this year's celebrations - and how it's significant.

What is this year's Zodiac animal?

Ending the year of the Water Tiger, which is seen as a symbol of strength, braveness and exorcising evils, the 2023 Lunar New Year is set to welcome the Year of the Rabbit.

The Rabbit is the fourth animal in the zodiac sequence of 12, and is seen as the luckiest.

People born in the year of the Rabbit are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious.

The animal is also said to signify mercy, elegance and beauty.

In the Chinese five-element theory, it is believed that each zodiac sign has one of the five elements: Metal, wood, water, fire or earth.

These elements rotate for each year on which the sign falls, meaning they come every 60 years.

This year is the Water Rabbit, which last came in 1903 and 1963.

There are five types of rabbit, each said to have different characteristics - and those associated with the Water Rabbit suggest believers in the Chinese lunisolar calendar who were born in those years may not be entirely pleased.

The traits linked to each of the rabbits are:

  • Water Rabbit: Gentle and amicable, but has a weak mindset

  • Wood Rabbit: Clever and quick-witted, but selfish

  • Fire Rabbit: Broad-minded, smart and flexible

  • Earth Rabbit: Straightforward, ambitious and hard-working

  • Metal Rabbit: Kind-hearted, lively and enthusiastic

When is the 2023 Lunar New Year?

The Year of the Tiger ends on 21 January and the Year of the Rabbit begins the following day, on 22 January.

How Chinese New Year celebrated?

One of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar, the Lunar New Year kicks off a 15-day festival of celebrations in China and among Chinese communities around the world.

Commonly known in China as Spring Festival, people in the country get seven consecutive days off each year to mark the occasion.

During this period, there are a number of traditions.

Festivities get under way with a lion dance, in which performers mimic a lion's movements while in a lion costume - with the animal symbolising power, wisdom, and superiority.

The performers move with the rhythm of the beating of the drum, cymbals and gong. The loud sounds are intended to scare away evil spirits and welcome the lion to bring in good fortune.

A dragon dance is the highlight of the celebration in many areas, as the dragon is a symbol of good fortune.

Other traditions include people cleaning their homes thoroughly to rid the household of bad luck.

Some eat specially prepared foods on certain days during the celebrations, which are also supposed to bring good luck.

They include dumplings, which are often eaten on Chinese New Year's eve and symbolise wealth, and sweet rice balls - a symbol of family togetherness.

The last event of the celebration is called the Lantern Festival, during which people hang glowing lanterns in temples or carry them during parades.

The festival also involves people lighting candles while praying in temples.

Firework displays take place that feature Datiehua folk art - which sees burning hot iron water sprayed to form a display of fireworks. The art originated in the Song Dynasty and is now part of cultural heritage across the country.