Director-General QU Dongyu

FAO celebrates Chinese Lunar New Year with high-level event and a message of harmony, peace and diversity

©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto


Rome - The Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, gathered today the Rome-based diplomatic corps, Italian authorities, and employees at FAO headquarters to mark the Chinese Lunar New Year in a first-of-its-kind celebration in the Organization.

In a heartfelt speech delivered in a room surrounded by Chinese lanterns and other traditional festive decorations, Qu highlighted the significance of embracing the rich traditions and cultural heritage associated with the celebration.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which follows a solar-based system, the Chinese Lunar New Year is steeped in centuries of tradition, aligning with the cycles of the moon and the 24 solar terms that indicate that 4 February is the Beginning of Spring (Li Chun). It is also a time when families come together, honouring their ancestors, and embracing customs that have been passed down through generations.

The Director-General emphasized the importance of recognizing and appreciating diversity, referring to the recently adopted UN General Assembly resolution that officially listed the Lunar New Year as a UN floating holiday.

Qu also stressed the importance of collaboration and solidarity in the face of global challenges, particularly in these uncertain times. He urged the FAO community to strive for a more harmonious world where collaboration had no boundaries, and to keep food and agriculture at the top of the international agenda.

“Whenever you are from— Latin America, Asia, Africa, or the Middle East—we are facing the same challenges together, including the climate crisis  and food security. Let this occasion become a moment of solidarity for a brighter future”, he urged.

The Lunar New Year is not only a traditional Chinese festival, but represents a day for universal family values, bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the new. Many countries around the world commemorate the Spring Festival as an official holiday, and about one-fifth of the world's population celebrates the Lunar New Year in different forms.

The incoming new year ushers in the Year of the Dragon, which is a symbol of strength, power, and good fortune in the Chinese Zodiac, and it carries with it the promise of positive beginnings and prosperity. The dragon is also a mystical symbol of courage and wisdom, offering people confidence and direction while facing difficulties and challenges. This sacred symbol presents the connection between the heavens and earth, as well as the harmony between humanity and nature.

“This Year of the Dragon is special for Chinese and East Asian Culture and must be celebrated because the next one will be 12 years from now”, the Director-General added.

The event at FAO headquarters highlighted the meaning of the Spring Festival and included a showcase of traditions such as Tai Chi, tea ceremony, and paper-cutting art.