Lunar New Year in the city

At Play Cultural Heart

Posted on 08 Jan 2019

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

Lunar New Year has been said to cause the world’s largest annual mass human migration as families from different places reunite to usher in the New Year, pay respects to elders and ancestors, share meals, exchange stories, good wishes and simply have fun!

Lunar New Year goes by many names: Chunjie or Spring Festival (Chinese), Tet (Vietnamese), Solnal (Korean) and Losar (Tibetan). It starts on the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends during the first full moon, 15 days later.

This year, Lunar New Year runs from 5 – 19 February. The city will ring in the celebrations with colourful street banners, lanterns and the ever-popular lion dance performances.

Year of the Pig


Based on the Chinese Zodiac, each year is represented by an animal and element that recurs every 12 years. 2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig.

Animals signs are determined by birth years. If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 or just joined the planet in 2019, 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

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.


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.

Red Lanterns

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.

Mandarin Oranges

Red envelopes (also known as hong bao or lai see) are presented by older generations to younger people at family and social gatherings. They contain money (new bill notes, never coins), however their true purpose is tied to the actual act of giving, which signifies the gift of good luck, life and happiness for the receiver.

You can pick up a red envelope from the City of Adelaide’s Customer Centre at 25 Pirie Street between Tuesday 29 January to Friday 8 February 2019 (while stocks last). Each envelope is filled with a sweet treat for you to enjoy until you slip something extra in it to give to another.

Red Envelopes

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.

Join the conversation