by Neeharika Beru ’22
Published Mar. 15th, 2021
Have you seen people celebrating the Lunar New Year and wondered what exactly it is? Well, the Lunar New Year is a special holiday that is dedicated to honoring families’ ancestors as well as to marking a brand new year. The festival lasts fifteen days: the first day starts on the first new moon and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar, as its name suggests, is based on the moon cycles. Therefore, the dates for the Lunar New Year are not the same every year. However, according to western calendars, the range in which it is celebrated is around January 21 and February 20. This year, it started on Friday, February 12th.
The majority of the countries that celebrate Lunar New Year reside in Asia: China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines are several examples. However, when families immigrate to various parts of the world, they bring their traditions and culture along with them! Thus, the spirits of the Lunar New Year can be found worldwide.
According to the Chinese zodiac, there are twelve animals that are correlated with each year. 2021 is the Year of the Ox. In general, the Year of the Ox represents stability, honesty, and strength, and determination. People worldwide are hoping this will come true, especially since 2020 was a brutal year for everyone.
In homes, the traditions and ways of celebrating are similar. In some countries, members of the family—especially the children—receive red envelopes from relatives that contain money. These envelopes are given to family members as a way to say “good luck for the new year.” Additionally, about ten days before the first day of the new lunar year, families thoroughly clean their houses to get rid of bad luck and impurities. This is called “sweeping of the grounds.” Throughout the New Year, there are many dances and fireworks, and the holiday ultimately ends with the Lantern Festival. During this celebration, colorful lanterns are lit, and families make a variety of traditional foods, such as yuan xiao (Chinese sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), yu sheng (raw fish and vegetable salad), and more! However, these events are only a small part of what happens in these 15 days.
Overall, the Lunar New Year is a very special time that is celebrated with family. Knowing some of the traditions and the history behind it can be very interesting, even if you do not celebrate it yourself.