Lunar New Year traditions celebrate unity and prosperity
The new moon marks the start of the Lunar New Year, an important time for many Asian countries to celebrate and honor ancestors.
The holiday, celebrated on February 1 this year, usually lasts for 15 days during which communities come together to perform New Year’s traditions and prepare a grand feast for all to enjoy.
“He was born in China thousands of years ago,” said assistant professor of Asian American Studies An Nguyen. “The festival has become a part of several nations in Asia, including China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.”
According to Nguyen, although Chinese New Year is the technical name of the holiday, other countries prefer to give the occasion other names.
“Vietnamese would prefer the Lunar New Year and it is also called Tet,” Nguyen said.
On this occasion, people visit the cemeteries of their ancestors in the hope of being healthy and prosperous, according to Nguyen.
“We take care of the graves, let them know it’s a new year and let them know what we did last year and ask for their blessing for the new year,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen shares that midnight is the most important time of the celebration as it transitions from old to new. At that time, relatives sit around each other wishing positivity among all and elders distribute money in lucky red envelopes.
For many less fortunate families, the Lunar New Year is a time to receive new clothes, treasures and lots of food like sticky rice and boiled chicken, as sharing within the community is encouraged, Nguyen said. .
“All year, we probably haven’t seen a piece of meat,” Nguyen said. “We grew up on cassava and sweet potatoes, but Tet is when we eat meat. Our parents made sure we had something new for the new year.
Another aspect of the holiday is the rotation of 12 Chinese zodiac animals to represent each year. This year is the Year of the Tiger.
Students celebrating the New Year prepare for family traditions and look forward to discovering their deeper meaning.
“We get together with the family, and on the New Year, we have a reunion dinner,” said Yinyu Du, a second-year psychology student. “We eat foods that symbolize things like this dessert called tangyuan. It represents the family all together because of the ball shape.
Although the Lunar New Year commemoration has differences among Asian communities, Nguyen said the significance of this time of year is similar.
“It’s about sharing and caring for everyone rather than just one family sitting together,” Nguyen said. “It’s more of a collective effort of a community.”