Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in Asian countries, is a time of happiness, family, celebration and even food! The festivals of Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, takes place on the first new moon and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, lasting 15 days. This means it is usually celebrated around January 21st to February 20th since this holiday is based on the lunar calendar.
Before the festivities begin, each family cleans and washes their house to remove any bad luck that may be present. The oldest and most patriarchal person in each house cleans the highest and most difficult spots to reach to signal dominance and to demand respect. This practice is called “sweeping of the grounds”.
One of the most defining aspects of Lunar New Year is the exchange of red envelopes filled with money, called hongbao. In Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes energy, happiness and good luck, so giving people these envelopes is a gesture of kindness and wishes for a safe and peaceful year. However, children are only gifted the envelops if they respect their parents and grandparents, illustrating the prevalence of ancient Chinese culture in Lunar New Year in relation to Confucian values specifically Filial Piety, (respect for your elders). During Lunar New Year, Chinese Lion Dancers dance in elaborate lion costumes in public settings to chase away evil deities; in return, audience members are expected to place red envelopes filled with money in the mouths of lions to thank the dancers.
On the last day of Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival takes place. During the night, colorful lanterns light up houses and foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are eaten. These foods carry a lot of meaning and symbolize the core values of Chinese people.
This year, Lunar New Year fell on Presidents’ Day break, providing the chance for families to celebrate the holiday at home. Students had Friday, February 12th, Monday, February 15th and Tuesday, February 16th off which gave students the chance to rest and catch up with their schoolwork and hopefully reduce stress and anxiety.
Graphic: Kate Minn