2019: Year of the Pig

Lisza Lo, Staff Writer

As the Lunar New Year has arrived, more festivities will be celebrated! Following the 12-year Chinese animal zodiac system, this Lunar New Year on Feb. 5 marks the beginning of the Year of the Pig. This holiday is celebrated widely throughout East and Southeast Asian countries, as well as in countries with large overseas Asian populations.

Although Lunar New Year is commonly referred to as “Chinese New Year,” it is celebrated by countries that historically once followed the Lunar Calendar. Many of these countries have similar traditions during this holiday due to influences from being neighboring cultures.

  1. Cleaning the House
    • Families start cleaning their homes about a week before the Lunar New Year in order to get rid of the bad energy before the new year starts, The cleaning concludes in that same week as Chinese people don’t clean the first couple days of the Lunar New Year celebrations because according to China Highlights, it sweeps “away the good luck.”
  2. Clothing
    • When the new year comes around, people tend to wear new clothes from head to toe. In addition, at more formal celebrations, some even wear traditional pieces. For example, the Chinese would wear 旗袍 (qipao), the Vietnamese would wear ao dai, and the Koreans would wear 한복 (hanbok). Oftentimes, these outfits are red and bright-colored to represent joy and fortune.
  3. Lucky Money
    • Married couples would give decorated red envelopes with money inside to children and other unmarried adults. These gifts of money are to symbolize and wish an upcoming year of luck, good health, and successful studies for the children. In the Chinese culture, this is called 压岁钱 (yasuiqian) and it is called mừng tuổi in Vietnam.
    • Junior Genevieve Ngo likes “receiving money from family” because “it is a sign of luck and love” and she is “able to use that money on anything.”
  4. Family Reunion Dinner
    • The Lunar New Year is a time of celebration, so what better way than to observe the festivities with your family? In China, the family reunion dinner (年夜饭, nianyefan) is eaten on New Year’s Eve (除夕, chuxi). In Vietnam, celebrating the New Year through food is known as ăn Tết. A popular food eaten during this time would be dumplings because it looks like Chinese silver ingots. 年糕 (niangao), or 떡국 (tteokguk) in Korean, is eaten since it represents improvement in one’s life in the upcoming year.

Sophomore Lauren Banuelos does not celebrate the Lunar New Year, but she enjoys “eating the traditional foods like dumplings” her friends bring to share from the holiday. The dinner aspect of Lunar New Year is important to junior Carmen Sun because it gives her “a chance to celebrate Chinese culture” with her “family through food.”

This is just a small list of the large amount of customs Asian countries participate in during the Lunar New Year. This holiday is celebrated widely by an abundant amount of people each year, mainly Asians, but don’t be afraid to discover it for yourself! The Lunar New Year has years and years of beautiful history behind it that is waiting for you to explore.

Graphic courtesy of SCMP.COM