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Your guide to Lunar New Year

How different cultures welcome in the New Year

While commonly referred to as “Chinese New Year” Lunar New Year is a significant celebration for many different Asian cultures. The holiday includes many different traditions and festivities celebrated globally.

Lunar New Year typically falls between late January and mid-February, this year landing on Feb. 10 and culminating in a lantern festival on Feb. 24. The holiday has been celebrated for thousands of years to commemorate the end of winter and welcome spring.

The new year shares common elements across cultures, however, regions also have distinct traditions and celebrations. Here’s a brief crash course on how different countries welcome the Lunar New Year.

China

Chinese Lunar New Year is celebrated during the new moon from the end of January to the end of February.

Typical traditions for celebrating include fireworks, lion dances, red envelopes with money (hongbao) and red decorations. The fireworks and lion dances are meant to drive away evil spirits. The red envelopes and red decorations symbolize good fortune.

In addition, a reunion dinner is held on the eve of the new year. Foods served at the dinner include dumplings, fish, longevity noodles, rice balls and rice cakes.

Korea

Also known as Seollal in Korea, the Lunar New Year is celebrated either in January or February on the second new moon after the winter solstice.  

Seollal is focused on family and togetherness, with families reuniting for the three-day festival. Gifts are exchanged, and new clothing is bought to be worn during the holiday period. 

Traditional foods are also an important part of the holiday. The most important is tteokguk, a kind of rice cake soup. Consuming this dish is believed to bring luck and longevity. Another common dish is jeon. Jeon is a savory pancake flavored with seafood or kimchi. 

Vietnam

In Vietnam, the lunar new year is known as Tet Nguyen Dan. This holiday is the most important cultural event in the Vietnamese calendar. Like Seollal, Tet brings families together. 

Tet is also about paying respects to ancestors. Family members will visit the burial grounds of loved ones to light incense and offer prayer. Homes are often decorated with beautiful floral arrangements of peach and apricot blossoms as well as orchids. 

Like Chinese New Year, red envelopes are also exchanged between friends and family. 

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Jackson Hill, Ombudsman

Class of 2024

Jackson has been part of the Talon staff for 2 years. He has previously served as a Staff Writer and enjoys writing news pieces.

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