While Lunar New Year might not be a widespread holiday celebrated in America, Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations among Southeastern and Eastern Asian cultures. The New Year celebration began January 22, but lasts for multiple days.
Lunar New Year begins with the first new moon on the lunar calendar. On the last day of the celebration, the Lantern Festival takes place where colorful lanterns light up homes and traditional foods are served.
The origins of Lunar New Year celebrations are thousands of years old that include religious celebrations honoring ancestors.
The Year of the Rabbit symbolizes hope and peace. People born in years 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927, etc. will experience a hopeful year. People born during The Year of the Rabbit are vigilant, witty, quick-minded, and skillful.
There are 12 zodiac signs that rotate each lunar new year: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
My friend, senior Gary Liu, is Chinese-American whose parents immigrated from Fuzhou, China. His family celebrates the New Year in traditional Chinese culture, and Gary shared some of his family’s customs for the celebration.
How does your family celebrate Lunar New Year?
On the first day, we make sure to wear lots of red. Red manifests good fortune and prosperity. When I lived in Fuzhou, we would hang up fu zi, a type of red paper decoration, to scare off the nian monster. In ancient times, the nian would come to villages to hunt and eat children, so hanging up the fu zi protects us from the monster and any bad luck. Nian is also scared of firecrackers, so that’s why we use a lot of firecrackers too! We also make sure to clean our house to get out all the bad luck and welcome in good luck for the New Year.
What are some foods you eat during the celebration?
The first thing we eat is a soup with whole fried eggs in it. The whites are fried and the yolks are nice and runny. We eat this to bring good luck; it’s so good! We eat mandarin oranges to manifest good health too. My mom always makes tian ji, which are fried frog legs, chao mi fen, which is a noodle dish that symbolizes longevity, and bu lao fan, pineapple sticky rice, which is eaten to strengthen family relationships.
Are there any other family traditions?
We put money in red envelopes called hong bao to give to our family members as a way to show our gratitude to each other and share good luck.
Thank you for sharing, Gary, and Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate!