Happy Lunar New Year!
Wishing everyone great health, happiness and prosperity.
Lunar New Year begins on January 23rd for both Chinese and Vietnamese this year. 2012 marks the year of the Dragon, which is when I was born too! According to CBC News “the dragon is the most auspicious and powerful of the 12 signs of the zodiac, one associated with high energy and prosperity.”
I thought it would be interesting to write a little bit more about general traditions and food celebrated during Lunar New Year. However, I will place more emphasis towards Vietnamese customs as I celebrate Tết, the Vietnamese New Year and could explain more from first hand experience.
Here are some traditions by both ethnicities:
- Visit relatives and temples. Pray for a better year and forget about any difficulties in the past.
- Place food arrangements, flowers and incense on an altar to pray.
- Elders give Li xi (red packets/envelopes with money) to younger children.
- Return what you borrow and pay debts before Tết.
- Decorate your home with flowers such as chrysanthemum and hoa mai. Hoa mai (pictured above) and other yellow flowers are meaningful because they are thought of as the golden flower and symbolize wealth and prosperity.
- Open your door/window to let out the old year but depending on circumstances you can just leave them open during the time you pray.
- Do not clean on the day of Tết, it symbolizes sweeping away all your luck and fortune.
- Do not say or do bad things during this holiday
- Do not wear white dresses or apparel if possible. The colour white symbolizes death in Vietnam and instead try wearing red, a powerful colour.
- Eat food such as dumplings at a chinese restaurant with family
- Make/eat Bánh chưng (steamed cake) made from rice, mung bean, pork and other ingredients.
- Try chicken, pork and vegetables with sticky rice.
- Make food arrangements for praying, which consist of fruits, rice soup and Bánh chưng. Some examples of these fruits are mango, persimmon, apples, etc.