Poster Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year begins on Feb. 12, 2021.
Macau Photo Agency/Unsplash

Celebrate Lunar New Year with music fit for the Year of the Ox

Lunar New Year Playlist

Although it has been colloquially called Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is celebrated by more than 20 percent of the world, mainly in East Asian countries. The Lunar New Year begins on the first new moon of the new year, which means the dates of the holiday vary year by year. It calls for celebration, togetherness, and signifies the beginning of a new sign in the Chinese zodiac.

The Year of the Ox began in 2021. In Chinese culture, oxen are symbols of prosperity and perseverance. People born in Ox years can be bright and patient, intelligent, honest and hard-working. Some famous people born in the Year of the Ox include Barack Obama, Louis Armstrong, Jesse Owens and composer Benjamin Britten. (The writers, classical host Mindy Ratner and assistant digital producer Brooke Knoll, also were born in the Year of the Ox!)

Lunar New Year
Year of the Ox items, clockwise from top, include a chop (seal) that was made for host Mindy Ratner with her name underneath; a stone carving of an ox, reclining; and a red and white papercut of an ox.
Steve Staruch, items courtesy of Mindy Ratner

There are many ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year. In China, it's a national holiday, lasting an entire week. Families come together to eat traditional foods, such as dumplings (jiaozi), sweet rice balls (tangyuan), jujubes (Chinese dates) and sweet rice cakes (nian gao). The celebrations don't stop with the food, however. To encourage good luck in the new year, new clothes are worn (mainly in red, which is the color of happiness and prosperity), and money is given in red envelopes to help transfer good fortune from older generations to the younger ones. In the street, you can see dragon dances that are meant to scare away monsters and bad luck, and at night you can see fireworks lighting up the sky.

If you want to greet someone during the Lunar New Year, there are a few different ways to do so:

Lunar New Year Greetings
Greetings for Lunar New Year (pronunciation credit to Eric Romani)
Mindy Ratner

LISTEN — Lunar New Year Greetings (spoken by Eric Romani)

Lunar New Year Greetings Pronunciations

Music is also one of the ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year, with songs looking forward to the beginning of spring and all of the new growth and opportunities that come with it.

Listen to our playlist of music for the Lunar New Year using the audio player above, and be sure to listen on-air nationally from 3 to 7 p.m. central Friday to join Mindy Ratner for music to celebrate the holiday.


Sun Yiqiang — Dance of Spring
Lang Lang, piano

Deng Yuxian (arr. Xiao Tairan) — Spring Wind
Lang Lang, piano

Traditional (arr. Wu Zuqiang) — Spring Flowers in the Moonlit Night on the River
Lang Lang, piano; Fan Wei, pipa

Huang Huwei (arr. Jiang Yiwen) — Pictures from Bashu: Spring in Chengdu
Eugenia Zukerman, flute; Shanghai Quartet

Traditional (arr. Xuefei Yang) — A Moonlit Night on the Spring River
Xuefei Yang, guitar

Traditional (arr. Xuefei Yang) — White Snow in the Spring Sunlight
Xuefei Yang, guitar

Qu Wei (arr. Xuefei Yang) — Flower Drum
Xuefei Yang, guitar

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