Lunar New Year!

Lunar New Year! Lunar New Year! Lunar New Year! The year of the tiger has been a hot topic for the last couple of weeks. Apple has even come out with tiger engraved their AirPods cases. Many have heard about Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, but have learned what it represents. Due to the growing number of Asian Americans in America, awareness of this holiday should be spread.

Lunar New Year is originally celebrated in East and Southeast Asian cultures such as in China, Vietnam, Korea, etc.  Depending on the culture, Lunar New Year is referred to differently. For example, in Vietnam, rather than saying Lunar New Year, the celebration is referred to as Tết. The exact date changes depending on the year since the celebration marks the first new moon on the lunar calendar. More than just the new start to the year, the new year is a day for unity, family, and rebirth. 

Depending even down to each family, traditions change. Some consist of attending New Year festivals that are filled with food, games, and more. Also in some cultures, like in Vietnam, many people attend Buddhist temples on the eve of the new year. Nowadays, most families host dinners at night. The new year also signifies the time to celebrate past ancestors. Personally, in my family, we set up traditional food alongside photos of old family members and each family member makes a prayer to them. 

Traditional Vietnamese Wedding Ao Dai in red with gold printed patterns  dragons/phoenix - optional head piece - couple or single
These are example of outfits worn on the New Year

Also, one of my favorite traditions is dressing up in traditional wear. Often dresses and outfits differ depending on the culture. For example, in Vietnamese culture, we wear an áo dài on Lunar New Year at our celebrations. Dressing up helps symbolize a fresh start for the new year. The beautiful dresses are colorful and can contain very intricate designs. 

Red Envelopes. Many people have heard the phrase “red envelopes”. On the new year, family and friends give out red envelopes filled with money inside. By giving the “lucky money” people hope to pass down luck and good fortune. Many children often try to visit as many family members and close friends as possible during the time of lunar new year to collect as many red envelopes as they can. 

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 — Red Envelopes, Great Events and The  Year of the Pig
Here are Red Envelopes that are given out at celebrations!

This just scratches the surface of the various traditions celebrated from culture to culture during the lunar new year. It truly is a time of the year to look forward to. Many Asian extended families are large, and this is the one time a year to see cousins and other family members you may not have seen for months. 

-Lilly G.

Three Lunar New Year Traditions that I Like

Many people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year, which creates many different traditions and beliefs about the holiday. This list just shows three out of the many beliefs and traditions that people have surrounding the holiday.

Red Envelopes

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 — Red Envelopes, Great Events and The  Year of the Pig

During Lunar New Year, the giving of Red envelopes seems to be a constant. Usually these envelopes are filled with money. In Singapore, people give out red with the phrase “Fú” on it, which means good luck. Based on my personal experience, some of the red envelopes will have the zodiac animal of the new year on it.

Eating Traditional Foods

How to Throw a Hot Pot Party: Jing Gao of Fly By Jing Gives Us Some Tips -  Thrillist

Eating certain foods to celebrate holidays is something that is very common in almost every country, and Lunar New Year is no exception. In Taiwan, people will eat pineapple cakes because pineapple in their dialect loosely translates to the phrase “good fourtune is coming”. In Mongolia, people eat hotpot. The ingredients in hotpot have different meanings, for example, round fishballs are added into the soup because they symbolize good fourtune.

Visiting Family

Chinese New Year Activities for Kids -

Almost everybody who celebrates Lunar New Year spends it with their family. Most of the time, people practice these tradtions with their families. Based on what I’ve experienced, people will visit their family for almost the entire day. They will usually go to a temple together. To add, all of the married people in the family give red envelopes to the unmarried people. Around nighttime, everyone will eat traditional foods together for dinner.

Sources:

Chinese New Year Activities for Kids by Kristina Klausen

How Lunar New Year Is Celebrated Around Asia by Anna Kim

How To Throw The Perfect Hot Pot Party by Kat Thompson

13 Lunar New Year Traditions From Around the World by Michelle Tchea

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 by Billy Fong

-Nicole M.

The Pumpkin Dive at the Sierra Rec Center

While a lot of people were probably enjoying their air-conditioning on Sunday, elementary school kids, other volunteers, and I had a blast at the Sierra Rec Center. Diving for pumpkins was a lot more fun in the 95 degree heat, instead of the rain like last year.

The event lasted from 2 to 5, and started off with kids jumping into the pool to find the perfect pumpkin. I thought that pumpkins would sink to the bottom of the pool, but who knew that they float?

After the kids found their perfect pumpkin, they got to decorate! With some paint bottles, stickers, googly eyes and pom poms, I saw a lot of creative designs. Painting the pumpkin pink was a really popular choice too.

And I can’t forget about the carnival games we had. There was a basketball hoop, some bean bag tosses, and face paint. The kids won prizes, and volunteers did an amazing job with the face paint.

Even though this wasn’t a teen event, you would’ve had a blast if you brought your siblings!

-Rebecca V.

Click here to see some photos from the event!