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.
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.
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.