Chinese New Year

2019 is the Year of the Boar

2019 is the Year of the Boar

Wesley Kwok, Section Editor

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Happy Lunar New Year…Wait- what’s that? Though most Americans don’t celebrate what many call the “Chinese New Year,” in Asia, the Lunar New Year is celebrated as a national holiday by many countries, including Korea, China, and Vietnam. Here are some interesting facts about a holiday that you will probably never experience.

  1. Chinese New Year is a big deal in Asia

What started out as a folk tale about people throwing firecrackers, painting their doors red, and honoring various deities and ancestors to deter the mythical monster Nian from eating has evolved into a massive celebration of food, gifting money, and spending time with family. Unlike American holidays, which are usually celebrated in a day or two, the Lunar New Year is a celebration that begins in late January and continues through the middle of February, and a large number of workers get at least a week off to spend time with their relatives in something akin to a family reunion.

  1. Food is central to the holiday

Think that the roasted turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes was a fancy meal for Thanksgiving? Well, for the big New Year’s Eve meal, there are a countless number of dishes to prepare (sometimes more than 12, depending on family size), and every food is supposed to symbolize something lucky. For example, dumplings represent the exchange between the new and old year, steamed fish symbolizes extra money and food for the coming year, and a whole chicken is steamed for the family’s prosperity in the new year.

  1. Money is important

During the New Year, Asians exchange hongbao, which are red packets filled with money that are supposed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. It is a normal sight to see children running around, lighting firecrackers (to scare off those evil spirits) and going door to door to their friends and family, essentially soliciting money. And usually they get quite a tidy sum. Ironically, in some parts of Asia, there is an unspoken rule that if, for example, a child receives money from his or her relatives, the child’s parents are obligated to give more money back to the original gifters.

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