Year of the Rabbit (Grace Pearson - The Tiffin Girls' School)

Year of the Rabbit (Grace Pearson - The Tiffin Girls' School) <i>(Image: Pexels)</i>
Year of the Rabbit (Grace Pearson - The Tiffin Girls' School) (Image: Pexels)

Determined by the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, Chinese New Year and its associated festivities fell on the 22nd of January this year. Marking the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit in accordance with the Chinese zodiac, which symbolises longevity, peace, and prosperity, this Chinese New Year has brought with it a variety of celebrations between family and friends across London, and across the globe.


Often called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year is an important celebration both in China. Although only the first week is a public holiday in China, the Chinese New Year period lasts for 15 days, until the first full moon, concluding with the Lantern Festival which will fall on the 5th of February in 2023.


Celebrated by more than 1.5 billion people each year worldwide, Chinese New Year is rich in traditions globally, which vary across cultures. However, there are some traditions which are practised similarly worldwide. For example, many Chinese communities globally follow the tradition of gifting red envelopes to young children, which are filled with money and symbolise good wishes and luck for the year ahead. Additionally, it is common for those who celebrate Chinese New Year to watch firecrackers, fireworks, and dragon dances, as well as putting up traditional red paper decorations.


Another less well known tradition associated with the celebration is to avoid washing or cutting one’s hair, specifically on the day of Chinese New Year. This concept stems from the suspicion that doing so will dramatically reduce one’s chances of success in the coming year, as the word for hair in Cantonese, pronounced as faat (髮), is the same word as the word for prosper or rather ‘getting rich’ (發). Thus, hair washing is interpreted by some to signify the washing away of one’s own fortune for the following 364 days, and hair cutting is often viewed as taboo until the festivities have finished.

Locally, many families and friends practised traditions and hosted festivities, and various schools have utilised the opportunity to further educate students about the celebration. For example, a student from The Tiffin Girls’ School, Juwariyah Shuaib mentioned she “loved the Chinese lantern installation in the foyer a few years back, and [she has] seen the LRC promoting some reading, which should be interesting.” Along with a schoolwide presentation on Chinese New Year, The Tiffin Girls’ School’s LRC has displayed many topical recommendations, such as the acclaimed novel Watching the Tree to Catch a Hare by Adeline Yen Mah, in which a Chinese daughter reflects on happiness, spiritual beliefs and universal wisdom. In addition, a broader variety of books set in Southeast Asian countries where Lunar New Year is celebrated were recommended and offered to the student body.

Across the globe, Chinese New Year is celebrated annually and often extravagantly by many communities both large and small, and the marked beginning of this year has been no different. Accompanied by red as the dominating decorative colour, a variety of traditions both old and new have been practised worldwide, as wishes of luck and prosperity have been passed between friends and family. Moving into the next year, many have happily shared wishes of 'New Year Goodness': "Xīnnián hǎo" (新年好), with the shared hope that the Year of the Rabbit will indeed be a year of peace and prosperity for all.