Lunar New Year in the city

At Play Cultural Heart

Lunar New Year is the most significant festival on the Chinese lunar calendar and is a time when tradition is honoured and practiced. In Adelaide, this important annual cultural event is recognised with celebrations showcasing time-honoured rituals, music, art and food.

Families reunite to usher in the New Year, gathering together to pay respects to elders and ancestors, share meals, exchange stories, good wishes and simply have fun.

In 2021, Lunar New Year begins from 12 February.

Year of the Ox


Based on the Chinese Zodiac, each year is represented by an animal and element that recurs every 12 years. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, the second zodiac animal.

According to mythology, the Jade Emperor determined the order of the zodiac animals through a race. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride but at the last moment, the Rat jumped off and crossed the line first!

People born in the year of the Ox are seen as hardworking, honest and earnest. They gain recognition through their hard work, think logically and make great leaders.

Animals signs are determined by birth years. If you were born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, or just joined the planet on, or after 12 February 2021, this is your year to celebrate!

Signs of the Time

There are many symbolic items associated with Lunar New Year. Here are just a few you are likely to spot this February.

Lunar New Year Lion Dance

Lion dance

A lion dance during Lunar New Year is something many look forward to every year, with itsskilful dancers (often times they are martial arts students), ornate ‘lions’, and traditional musical instruments.

The lion dance is one of the most important traditions during Lunar New Year celebrations. Superstition has it that the dances are meant to scare away bad spirits, and help usher in prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year. With its loud and often thunderous drumming, lion dances are a sure way to create a festive atmosphere.



These tasty little treats can be found any time of the year but enjoying them during Lunar New Year is especially rewarding as they represent wealth and prosperity. It’s said the dumpling’s shape resembles a gold or silver ingot, the currencies of yesteryear. By serving and eating them during the New Year, you’re inviting good fortune into your life for the year ahead.

Red Lanterns

Red lanterns

Lanterns are a familiar sight during Lunar New Year for good reason. Hanging red lanterns at home or in places of business symbolises the invitation of joy and good fortune. Red is an auspicious colour representing good energy, luck and happiness.

Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges

This sweet citrus fruit is a must during Lunar New Year. A symbol of prosperity and abundance for those celebrating through the festive season, they’re often displayed as decorations and exchanged during family visits. If you’re planning on offering mandarin oranges this Lunar New Year, be sure to bundle them in even numbers. Odd numbers are perceived as bad luck.

Article by

Michelle Chee

Michelle Chee

Your neighbourhood human being.

Michelle considers herself lucky to be able to call Adelaide home. As a migrant, she's passionate about sharing experiences of others who have also chosen this beautiful city as their place to live.