Much of the world said “Happy New Year” three weeks ago, but this weekend marks another celebration, one that involves much more than a midnight toast and round of fireworks. Billions of people are eating and drinking and in many cases traveling long distances to welcome the Year of the Rabbit. The Lunar New Year arrives Saturday — and these photos offer just a few snapshots of celebrations and preparations already underway.
In Bangkok, temples adorned with rabbits large and small; in Manila, Philippines, a store owner gets ready; and in Sola, in central Java, Indonesia, children greet a lion dance performer. Meanwhile, in China, where hundreds of millions of people are hitting the road after years of “zero-covid” restrictions, the joy is palpable. And the celebrations have a rich variety — from a sea of red lanterns in Xi’an to a drone light display over Nantong, and many more.
This year brings special attention to the celebrations in China, precisely because the traditional New Year journeys to see far-flung family have been largely forbidden for three years. As Grid’s China Reporter Lili Pike notes, all that travel brings both great excitement and high anxiety; as she puts it, “along with the traditional red envelopes of cash, cases of fruit, and bottles of baijiu, they are bringing an unwelcome guest: covid.”
That’s the potential dark side in this year’s Lunar New Year festivities. But for the most part, it’s a joyful time. To all who celebrate, a very happy Year of the Rabbit.