Lunar New Year: Did you know Asian cultures celebrate a variety of different New Years?

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      This morning at the bus stop, an elderly Caucasian woman came up to me and cheerily exclaimed"Gung Hay Fat Choy!" I explained to her that I am actually of Japanese descent.

      It happens every year. And it's understandable, considering how sizeable Vancouver's Chinese Canadian population is.

      What many people don't realize (even moreso than the fact that not every Asian Canadian is Chinese) is that the myriad of Asian cultures celebrate different New Year festivities at varying times of the year.

      It'd actually be erroneous to say "Asian New Year" since there isn't one unified celebration all at one time. Some Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year. Some celebrate the Western New Year. Some officially recognize both as public holidays. And some welcome the new year in spring.

      Here's a quick rundown of New Year celebrations in East and South East Asia.

      Korea: Seollal
      Vietnam: Tết Nguyên Đán
      Tibet: Losar (this year, it's on February 22)
      Mongolia: Tsagaan Sar (also on February 22) 

      Indonesia: they have traditionally celebrated Western New Year but due to their large Chinese population, they now also recognize Chinese New Year as an official holiday
      Malaysia: Chinese New Year is a national holiday. Western New Year is a public holiday with the exception of some states.
      Singapore: both Chinese and Western New Year are public holidays 

      Japan: Japan used to celebrate lunar new year but this was changed in 1873 when Japan adopted the solar calendar. Japanese New Year (O-Shogatsu) is held on January 1 but is a multiday celebration with traditions different from the West.

      In some of these countries, Chinese New Year is celebrated but is not a public holiday
      Thailand: Songkran (April 13-16), plus Western New Year is also a public holiday
      Laos: Bpee Mai, Pi Mai Lao, or Songkran (April 13), celebrated in addition to Western New Year and Chinese New Year as public holidays
      Cambodia: Khmer New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey (April 14-16), plus Western New Year is also a public holiday
      Nepal: Bisket Jatra (April 13)
      Myanmar (Burma): Thingyan (April 13 to 17)

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      Jan 23, 2012 at 6:19pm

      Just try and celebrate Tibetan new year ( Losar ) in occupied Tibet aka China . It starts with a knock on the door then years of knocks on the head by the Chinese army and police or there minions in one of the many state and private jails in China .


      Jan 24, 2012 at 12:24am

      Thanks! I was actually wondering about this

      Todd Wong

      Jan 24, 2012 at 12:49am

      Hi Craig-San

      Gung HAGGIS Fat Choy!

      Moet Chandon

      Jan 24, 2012 at 1:49am

      Woah, cool - do they all drop a ball on their respective New Year's Eve?