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Paper Chinese lantern hang at the International Street Festival, in Athens, Georgia, on Saturday, April 8, 2017. (Photo/Jane Snyder, janemarysnyder.com)

From complementary red pockets at Bubble Cafe to the Asian American Student Association’s reimagined annual Lunar New Year celebration, there are signs across Athens that the Lunar New Year has arrived.

Friday marks the 2021 Lunar New Year, also referred to as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. This year will be recognized as the “Year of the Ox,” named after the second zodiac animal.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday on the Lunar calendar and is named after the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars.

Many East Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Vietnam have traditions rooted in the Lunar calendar. The date of Lunar New Year varies according to the Gregorian calendar, but commonly occurs between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, since it takes around 354 days for the Earth to completely orbit the sun to complete a solar year.

The holiday lasts for 16 days — this year in China, the public holiday extends for seven days, from Feb. 11 to Feb. 17.

The holiday encourages new beginnings, much like the New Year Holiday celebrated in the United States. Some people participate in a “sweeping of the grounds” as they clean their houses or anything that needs mending in order to extract any negative energy that may be present in their lives.

The Lantern Festival takes place on the last day of the Lunar New Year. The night sky is illuminated with bright, colorful lanterns in East Asian countries while many indulge in a traditional New Year’s Eve meal with foods such as dumplings, sticky rice cakes and fish.

The holiday is full of traditions, such as the Dragon Dance, gifting red pockets to children, firecrackers and parades. However, the celebrations this year might look different as people across the world are restricted with various COVID-19 guidelines.