Boston hops into the Year of the Rabbit


Quillan Anderson

Performers push through the crowd during the annual Lunar New Year Parade in Chinatown’s Phillips Square Sunday, Jan. 29. 2023 marks the Year of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac or the Year of the Cat for Vietnam’s Tết.

Quillan Anderson, photo editor

For 15 days, communities around the world celebrate Lunar New Year by hanging bright red lanterns, performing lion dances and wishing loved ones wealth and prosperity over homemade meals.

Starting on the first full moon on the lunisolar calendar, Lunar New Year – also known as the Spring Festival, Tết Nguyên Đán and Seollal – is one of the most important holidays in China. However, it is also recognized in other Asian countries with various cultural practices and traditions.

The holiday stems from the Chinese legend of Nian, a beast that ate crops, livestock and villagers on the eve of every New Year. One year, an old man discovered Nian was afraid of loud noises and the color red. To prevent the creature from destroying the town, people lit bamboo, hung red lanterns and placed food outside their homes.

Firecrackers eventually replaced the crackling bamboo, but these traditions have lasted for thousands of years and spread across the globe.

With over 25,000 Chinese-American residents and the third-largest Chinatown in the United States, Boston serves as a cultural hub for Asian Americans across New England. The neighborhood tends to see an increase in visitation and business around the New Year. With bright decorations throughout the streets, open markets selling traditional flowers and the annual Lunar New Year parade, the neighborhood explodes with color and music.