Welcome back to the 255! We hope that you all are settling into the new semester’s rhythm. This week’s blog post highlights the celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year. We hope this post gives you more insight into the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the culture it’s part of. We’ll also debunk some common misconceptions regarding the holiday and demonstrates the various ways individuals can celebrate.
Although the holiday season in the United States refers to the months of November and December, many Asian countries anticipate another season of holidays soon after the start of the calendar year. The Lunar Year traditionally falls between January 20th and February 20th, depending on (you guessed it!) the cycle of moon. This holiday is referred to as the Lunar New Year as it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar. An article in the New York Times discusses the difference between the Solar and Lunar year by adding:
A solar year –– the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun –– lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 . . . To correct for seasonal drift, the Chinese, Hindu, Jewish and many other calendars are lunisolar. In these calendars, a month is still defined by the moon, but an extra month is added periodically to stay close to the solar year.Steph Yin
In China, many families kick off the holiday season of Lunar New Years’ Eve with a familial reunion dinner. Many traditional dishes are specific to the Lunar New Year and can be seen below. The end of Lunar New Years’ Eve typically concludes with the Lantern Festival –– also showcased below. The main themes of the celebration are fortune, happiness, and health.
One common misconception regarding the Lunar New Year is that it is only observed in Chinese culture. Many different cultures and countries celebrate the New Year such as South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet. The popularity of the term “Chinese New Year” came from the many Chinese-Americans in the United States. Although in China and other countries, the holiday is referred to as simply the “New Year,” Chinese-Americans all over the United States collectively coined the term “Chinese New Year.”
Typical celebrations of the Lunar New Year include many fireworks, the Dragon Dance, the distribution of red envelopes, and other festive activities. The red envelopes are traditionally given from parents to children or to anyone who is single/unmarried. The tradition became popularized through an older version of the custom in which coins were distributed as gifts to ward off evil spirits. People often participate in this activity by wishing people “Gong Xi Fa Cái” which directly translate to “make money in the New Year.” Firecrackers, similar to the customs of the coins, are used to ward off an ancient monster called Nian. Although participants are equally satisfied with confetti poppers. Finally, the Dragon Dance is a key feature to the New Year. In addition to the most commonly known Dragon Dance, participants all over the world have their own traditional dances such as the Lion Dance, Phoenix Dance, and the Fan Dance.
The Lunar New Year is a 15 day-long celebration full of fun activities and events. The 2021 Lunar New Year will start the year of the Ox! We wish all of our MMC community a happy Lunar New Year. Reach out to us on Instagram and share the ways you and your loved ones celebrate. Lastly, as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and Xin Nian Kuai Le!!
More info on the Lunar New Year:
- Lunar New Year’s Traditions and Superstitions, Explained – Samantha Vincenty
- Why Lunar New prompts the world’s largest annual migration – Erin Blakemore
- Fortune Tales – The Story of Lunar New Year
- Chinese New Year