The b
Published in

The b

20 adorable pictures of tigers to celebrate the Lunar New Year

by Sarah Walker

The Lunar New Year is set to be celebrated on Feb. 1, 2022, which means over the next few weeks billions of people around the globe will prepare to ring in the year of the tiger. To mark the annual occasion, we’ve rounded up some of the must-know facts about the event and paired them with the cutest photos of tiger cubs in their element. Xin nian kuai le!

Calendar fast facts

The Lunar New Year is commonly known as Chinese New Year, but some also refer to it as the Spring Festival. The event lasts 16 days and takes place every 354 days orapproximately 12 Chinese lunar cycles.

Auspicious animals

Each year within the Chinese zodiac is attached to an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. It’s believed how a year unfolds is based on the traits of the animal attached to the specific year.

Welcoming the tiger

This year’s animal, the tiger, is third in the Chinese zodiac. Previous years of the tiger include1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, and 2010.

The greatest migration

Because the Spring Festival is marked by billions of people around the world (especially in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Mongolia), it’s often referred to as the world’s largest migration, Chunyun. It is the 40-day period when folks head home to celebrate the event.

Legend has it…

How did the Lunar New Year festival come to be? Legend has it a beast, named Nian, once existed that sought out human flesh. The only things it feared were the colour red, loud noises, and fire. The lanterns that burnand fireworks that are set off during the celebrations are believed to frighten evil (a.k.a. Nian) away.

Bamboo fireworks

Before fireworks were invented, people used to burn bamboo to ward off evil demons and spirits. When heated, the hollow part of the green plant expands and eventually explodes much like a firecracker.


Though many believe the traditional way to say “Happy Lunar New Year” to someone is “gong hei fat choy,”that’s incorrect. That saying loosely means “wishing you prosperity and good fortune.” There are some 23 different ways one could actually wish someone a happy new year, including “xin nian kuaile.”

Thank the heavens

One of the most important parts of Lunar New Year celebrations is the honouring of ancestors. There is evena ceremony of “cinian” held in the afternoon of Lunar New Year’s Eve, which offers sacrifices to the heaven, family gods, ancestors, and wandering souls in an attempt to welcome good luck.

Giving gifts

Gifts are traditionally given around the Lunar New Year in the form of red envelopes (“laisee” in Cantonese or “hong bao” in Mandarin) containing small amounts of money. The gift-giving gesture is a sign of respect and admiration. It’s also believed the coins the envelopes contain will ward off evil spirits.

Food for thought

Another important part of the Lunar New Year is food. Traditional foods like sticky rice balls(“yuanxiao”) are eaten to welcome luck and wellness into revellers’ lives. Prosperity cake (“fagao”) and raw fish and vegetable salad (“yusheng”) are also consumed.

Dip some dumplings

One of the most popular foods to eat during this period are dumplings. Called “jiaozi,” their name is similar to the ancient Chinese word that described replacing the old with the new. It’s also believed that a plate full of dumplings looks like a pile of gold, which welcomes wealth into the new year.

Festive fruit

Oranges and tangerines also play an important part of the Lunar New Year because they’re believed to bring good luck and fortune to those surrounded by them. The Mandarin word for orange sounds the same as the word for success and the fruits’ hues resemble gold.

All aglow

In many parts of the world, the Lunar New Year culminates in a Lantern Festival. During the event houses are decorated with colourful lanterns, many with riddles written on them. There are also dragon dances, parades, and fireworks.

Time to tune in

Since the 1980s, it’s become popular for people to celebrate the arrival of the new year at the movies. The term “Hesuipian” refers to blockbusters made by the hottest Chinese stars and directors teaming up to entertain film lovers during the Spring Festival. The goal of the often lighthearted movies is to boost spirits.

Clean up for luck

To welcome “good luck” into their homes ahead of the Lunar New Year, families do a deep clean, removing any bad luck that may be lingering from the previous year. This custom called “sweeping of the grounds” starts about 10 days before the Spring Festival begins. On New Year’s Day, cleaning is strictly forbidden.

Things to avoid

Cleaning isn’t the only new year act that’s forbidden. There are a slew of things people are asked to avoid lest they welcome bad luck into their world. Examples include crying, breaking dishes, lending or borrowing money, wearing black or white clothes, visiting the hospital, or using scissors or knives.

The traits of a tiger

This year marks the year of the tiger, an animal within the Chinese zodiac that is brave, cruel, forceful, and terrifying. Emperors and kings were often compared to tigers as they’re a symbol of power and lordliness in Chinese culture. Those born under the tiger are said to be adventurous, ambitious, and slightly arrogant.

Numbers matter

Superstition around what brings someone good versus bad luck is common in Chinese culture, as is numerology. For those born in the year of the tiger, it’s believed their luckiest numbers are one, three, and four. Numbers to be avoided include six, seven, and eight.

Colours to watch

Tigers are also said to have lucky and unlucky colours. The former are grey, blue, white, and orange, while the latter are gold, silver, brown, and black.

Famous tigers

Some of the more famous “tigers” include Queen Elizabeth II, Marilyn Monroe, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, and Shawn Mendes.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store