Celebrating the Lunar New Year in Belize

by Khaila Gentle

The Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations in a number of Asian cultures. And come January 22nd, millions of people across the globe – including here in Belize – will be ushering in the Year of the Rabbit. Filled with ages-old traditions, fun customs, and tons of delicious food, this historic celebration (also known as Chinese New Year and Spring Festival) centers on family and friends as well as the arrival of good fortune for the coming year.

When is the Lunar New Year?

Fun fact: there’s no set date for the Lunar New Year. The holiday falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice on December 21st. Celebrations can last for as many as 15 days, but most are observed during the first seven days. This year, that’s between January 22nd and January 29th. The festivities will culminate on February 5th with the Lantern Festival.

Each New Year represents a different animal on the Chinese Zodiac, and this year that animal is the rabbit.

Bringing in the Year of the Rabbit in Belize

So, how is the Lunar New Year Celebrated? Well, with lots of red for one. Most activities done during the New Year celebrations focus on the theme of removing the old and welcoming the new. During this period, the color red, believed to signify good fortune and protection, prevails.

Every year in Belize, the local Chinese community gets together for lots of feasts and festivities. Outside of local businesses, spectators are treated to a show with the colorful lion dance. You can also expect lots of fireworks and firecrackers.

Lucky Foods to Eat for the Lunar New Year

Another major aspect of the Lunar New Year Celebrations is food. As with other aspects, food for the Lunar New Year are related to incoming blessings. Some common dishes eaten during the New Year (and that you can try while in Belize) include:

Spring Rolls – With the ability to serve as a dinner dish, appetizer, or snack, this savory delicacy is an important part of Lunar New Year celebrations. They’re also often eaten on the first day of Spring.

Tang Yuan (Sweet Rice Balls) – These sweet glutinous rice balls represent reunion and family togetherness. Chewy and mildly sweet, they’re often boiled and served in a soup.

Dumplings – Some believe that dumplings are shaped like ancient Chinese gold and silver ingots. Many also believe that with each dumpling eaten, your wealth and good fortune for the new year increases.

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