Context is Everything in the Rabbit’s New Year | Celebrating the Year of the Rabbit and How to Fold Your Own Paper Cranes

Year of the Rabbit

This lunar new year begins on Sunday, January 22, and ends on Sunday, February 5, 2023. For many in the Chinese and Asian American communities, and for many Asians worldwide, the lunar new year is a time to celebrate with family and friends over good food, games, parades, and dances.

The 2023 Year of the Rabbit celebrates the Water Rabbit and is believed to be a year of hope, wisdom, and reflection.

For many Chinese Americans, especially in Chinatowns across the United States, you can watch dragon dances and lion dances where performers dress up in elaborate costumes, and using puppetry and acrobatics, will dance to the sound of drums and firecrackers. 

In New England, you can visit Boston’s Chinatown district where many shops will be open to these costumed dancers, who are believed to help usher in good vibes and good fortune for the new year. Here in Maine, you won’t see the giant dragons or lions, but the Chinese and American Friendship Association of Maine will be celebrating with traditional dances, good food, and fun crafts. Take a look and join the fun here:

“Fu” or Fortune and Luck

The Chinese character 福, pronounced “fu” (Mandarin) or “fook” (Cantonese) means fortune or luck. The large diamond-shaped artwork here with the rabbit and “fu” character references traditional door, window, and wall-hanging decorations that many Chinese will adorn their homes with during Lunar New Year’s celebrations. These decorations represent a wish from the families that good fortune will enter the household. Sometimes, the character will be flipped and hung upside-down, representing the word “dou fu,” or “returning fortune/luck” in the hopes that good fortune will come in and return over and over into the home.

Paper Cranes

Paper cranes are easy to fold, but they do take a little bit of practice! Don’t be discouraged if you don’t fold it right the first time, or if you aren’t too happy with the first several that you make–The traditional folklore about being granted a wish after folding 1,000 paper cranes is really about perseverance in the face of difficulty. Take your time and keep trying, and by the time you’ve folded a few more, you’ll realize that it’s not so hard, and you’ll be able to make a thousand before you know it!

There are many more instructions and videos online that show you step-by-step how to fold a paper crane. Take a look at some of these below!

Video + Photos by The Spruce Crafts:

Video by Yasumoto Art and Origami:

*I am forever grateful and truly indebted to all the people who have put their time and their hands into helping me realize this work. Without your contributions, this art and its message would not have been able to happen.