Gong Xi Fa Cai! Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year holidays to all those who celebrate it! May this Year of the Rabbit be a fruitful and prosperous one for every of us!
However, opening the lunar holiday celebrations wasn’t as great for some K-Pop idols—even more so for NewJeans’ Danielle and Hanni.
On January 19, 2023, Danielle and Hanni both sent messages to their fans on their fan communication platform ‘Phoning’, greeting them for the holidays. Danielle sent, “what r u bunnies [their fandom’s name] doing for Chinese new year?”, while Hanni referred to the holiday as “Lunar New Year”.
Both of the NewJeans members got the ire of both Korean and Chinese online users respectively soon after. Danielle later posted an apology on NewJeans’ Instagram.
“Hello, this is NewJeans’ Danielle.
On Thursday, January 19, I sent a message on Phoning that read, “what r u bunnies doing for Chinese new year?” Although I deleted it as soon as I realized my mistake, my message had already been delivered to many people, and it became impossible to undo.
Because Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated by many countries and regions, including our country [Korea], my choice of words was inappropriate, and I deeply regret it. I also want to say I’m truly sorry to the Bunnies and many other people who must have been disappointed or hurt by my words.
I will not forget this incident, and I will try to be more careful in my words and actions in the future.
Once again, I apologize.”
Bunnies came to both Danielle and Hanni’s defense, saying that the hate they were receiving is clearly too much. Danielle being flamed by Korean netizens one day, and Hanni by Chinese netizens the next.
hanni said lunar new year, get dragged by cnetz. danielle said chinese new year, get dragged by knetz. at the end of the day no matter how they say it, they will get dragged. im tired
— chi (@prettyygoogiee) January 21, 2023
Knet wasnt even mad about it until cnet bring it up???? Cnet was attacking Hanni for call it "LNY" and comparing her with Dani so the whole thing blow up and only then knet know about that. And it isn CNY, it Lunar New Year. https://t.co/ixM2un7kuf
— °•♡•° 𝑺 𝑨 𝑹 𝑨 °•♡•° (@MIUMIUluvAcSt) January 22, 2023
danielle gets bashed by knets for saying 'happy chinese new year' then hanni gets bashed by chinese ppl for saying 'happy lunar new year' even though shes viet 🤩🤩🤩 i love kpop stans 🤩🤩🤩
— s̶o̶p̶h̶ 💗 (@shr1mpballs) January 23, 2023
Hanni is being bullied and bodyshamed by Chinese netizens for saying Lunar new year
— clova (@hanic1over) January 21, 2023
so danielle got hate for saying chinese new year and hanni got hate for saying lunar new year..first of all, all countries have their own culture so nothing is wrong in saying both. most countries including Australia call it cny and most countries including Vietnam call it lny
— K⁷ ᵛⁱᵇᵉ ❤️🔥 (@Taeluvsberry) January 23, 2023
Danielle got hate for saying Chinese new year and now Hanni is getting hate for saying Lunar new year like what do you want them to call it💀 https://t.co/N6eGQfcj35
— 𝐒𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐫𝐚𝐝𝐝 || 𝐍𝐱𝐝𝐞 (@dahlia_su_) January 23, 2023
With this in mind, how should we really call this holiday? What is the correct term for it?
The Lunar New Year holiday isn’t only being celebrated in China—it’s also being celebrated in many other Asian countries such as Vietnam, North and South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and in places that have a Chinese or Asian community present. As such, there are differences in the way this holiday is being observed.
Using the term “Chinese New Year” is more specific than calling it “Lunar New Year”, which is more general. “Chinese New Year” is used when the traditions and culture being celebrated is of course, Chinese in nature.
An example of this is the Chinese zodiac. While many other Asian cultures follow this zodiac line-up (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig), Vietnam has their very own zodiac.
In China, 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, while in Vietnam it is the year of the Cat. In the Chinese zodiac, the Ox is what we call the animal that came after the Rat. But in Vietnam, they celebrate the Buffalo instead.
All Asian countries have their own celebrations of this holiday, no matter how similar and different it is, thus it’s not wrong to call it by “Chinese New Year” or “Lunar New Year”.
However, we do get why it can sound offensive to other people.
How does it become offensive and insensitive? Well for one, if we just refer to it as “Chinese New Year”, how would the other cultures celebrating it but under a different name feel? It would make them feel belittled and ignored because the celebration itself isn’t just “Chinese-centered” anymore.
Another is that other cultures (not just Asian) also have their own variation of the “Lunar New Year”, like the Muslims and Jewish people who celebrate it on a completely different date.
Though, just to take care in the future: use “Chinese New Year” when talking about the celebration to other Chinese people and if the traditions being discussed are more Chinese in nature. Use “Lunar New Year” or other local terms when talking about the festival to other Asian cultures.
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