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For Catholics in Asia, Lunar New Year is celebrated with Mass and prayer

Chinese New Year, friends

Jacob Lund | Shutterstock

Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 01/25/23

This "Year of the Rabbit," a symbol of peace, can be a time to pray for peace in the world and in our hearts.

The annual Lunar New Year is such a fun thing to celebrate, even if you’re not of Asian descent. 

This spring festival has been celebrated for thousands of years. Festivities include flowers, parades, parties, the lucky color red, gift giving, and travel to be with family during this biggest holiday of the year in much of Asia.

Unlike the Western New Year, which is celebrated for one day, the Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days. So the festivities are ongoing, and many places will celebrate with a parade this weekend. You might check whether there’s one in your city for a delightful outing!

And of course, don’t forget about the amazing foods! Dumplings, long noodles, sticky rice, and fish are among the delicious festive foods for the occasion.

Something interesting to learn is how Catholics in Asia honor this occasion. Although Lunar New Year is a secular holiday, for Catholics in Asia, Mass and prayers are often part of their celebrations. According to Pray Tell Blog:

For Catholics in Asia, the Lunar New Year is celebrated almost as if it were a Feast day. Many go to Mass the night before or the morning of the first day to give thanks to God and celebrate the New Year with God’s blessings. In the Catholic context, symbols and themes of the festival, including the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, are often inculturated in homilies and through the giving of blessed symbolic objects after Mass.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Australia, special Masses are often held for the occasion, as Catholic Weekly reports,

Dance, color, gifts, prayers for deceased loved ones and lots of good food accompanied the arrival of the Lunar New Year for thousands of Sydney’s Catholics last weekend.

And in recent years, Pope Francis has offered a special message for those celebrating the Lunar New Year, saying:

I hope that the kindness, sensitivity, solidarity and harmony, which we experience in these days in traditionally reunited families, may always permeate and characterize our relationships, both familial and social, so that we may live a serene and happy life… Happy New Year!

This year’s symbol seems especially appropriate for Catholics all over the world. This year will be the “Year of the Rabbit,” a symbol for peace. This theme calls to mind Christ’s name as the “Prince of Peace,” who promises to give us his peace in our souls.

Perhaps this Lunar New Year can also be an invitation for us to pray for an end to persecution in China of Christians and other ethnic and religious groups, and for Christ’s peace to reign in the world and in our hearts this year.

Catholic LifestyleChinaHolidays
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