By Vincent Jiang
Although most countries in the world celebrate their new year on January 1, there are also many Asian nations that mark this holiday on a different date. Commemorating the first full moon of the year, Lunar New Year is celebrated by 1.5 billion people in China, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and other Asian countries. Similar to the Gregorian calendar’s New Year's Eve and Day, Lunar New Year is also a time of celebration, gathering and high spirits.
Lunar New Year is a festival that has been celebrated for thousands of years, but it was first approved on a calendar in 104 BCE, during the Han Dynasty of Emperor Wu. The calendar’s dates were charted based on the cycle of the moon. Typically, celebrations would last for 15 days; however, the celebrations could last up to 23 days.
Artwork by Sabeena Ramdarie
Many families come together to celebrate the Lunar New Year by wearing the color red and decorating their homes in red.
According to legends, red is the main color that is used during the festival because there is a hideous beast named “Nian” that feasts on human flesh during the festival. Yet, the beast is frightened by the color red, loud noises and fire.
Most students usually celebrate Lunar New Year by wearing red clothing, playing dominos, eating dumplings and mandarin oranges, talking about stories revolving around the holiday and having family gatherings. However, others join festivals where they can set off firecrackers or fireworks and lanterns. During the festivals, there are plenty of food stalls in the streets, and it is possible to witness the famous dragon dance or lion dance, which is a dance where people dress up and hide in dragon/lion costumes to make it look like the creature is dancing.
Other than celebrating, students also receive red envelopes from relatives that contain money for a symbol of good luck.
“Lunar New Year is a very enjoyable time of the year because the street festivals are extremely amusing and lively. You would also be able to receive plenty of gifts and red envelopes from many relatives and friends,” junior Meng Yao said.
Many students are also thankful for the opportunity to spend more time with their loved ones while celebrating the holiday.
“It’s a day that I get to spend more time with my family and friends,” sophomore Abhiveer Singh said.
“Similar to the Gregorian calendar’s new year, Lunar New Year is also a time of celebration, gathering and high spirits...”
Decorating is also a huge part of the Lunar New Year. Students, along with their family members, hang red lanterns or red paper on windows or doors. Writing down wishes on a paper and hanging it on a decorated tree, especially blossom trees, provide good luck and might even fulfill the wishes made.
By learning more about the traditions of this holiday, students have the ability to become more culturally aware about people around them.