Cultures From Around the World is a series created by the Robin’s Nest Tutoring Article Writing Team in which we discuss various holidays celebrated by our culturally and regionally diverse student and tutoring body. Today we’ll be discussing Lunar New Year!
新年快乐！- Happy (late) Lunar New Year!
What is the Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrating the beginning of a calendar year based on moon cycles. It is celebrated in many different cultures and countries, such as China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and South Korea. In China, the celebration of Lunar New Year can be traced back to the Warring States period (475 BC – 221 AD), when people carried out a ritual in order to expel illness. This practice has evolved into cleaning houses thoroughly in the days before the new year.
Lunar New Year Customs
Cleaning is done before the new year, not after the holiday, as cleaning during the early new year is believed to sweep out the good luck. After cleaning their homes, families will go shopping for new items in order to welcome the new year and prepare for a fresh start. People will also post square posters featuring the Chinese character for luck, 福, on walls. Pasting this character upside down is also widely practiced, as this action can be interpreted as the phrase meaning the arrival of happiness or good fortune. Eating dumplings is also an important part of the celebrations as a dumpling’s shape resembles the shape of the ingots of ancient times, so they are believed to bring wealth in the coming year. Children also receive red envelopes filled with money from the elderly, representing wishes for safety and prosperity in the coming year.
Now, families may also watch the CCTV New Year’s Gala, which starts at 20:00 on New Year’s Eve and counts down to the new years. The two and a half hour show features art and performance events, including skits, cross talk, acrobatics, singers, and dancers, from all across China. Additionally, messaging apps such as WeChat are used to share digital red envelopes, texts, voice messages, and videos to express good wishes to family members far away.
This article was written by Helen Xie. Helen is currently a junior at Lubbock High School. She is involved in many extracurriculars in addition to volunteer work, including Model UN, Lubbock High’s GSA, and Robotics.
This article was edited by Ruby Barenberg. Ruby is a current junior at Lubbock High School where, outside of volunteering for Robin’s Nest Tutoring, she participates in UIL competitions. She also runs a book blog.