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Do You Know What Lunar New Year Means and Why It’s One of the Biggest Celebrations in Asia?

It is one of the most important festivals for certain Asian countries.
Do You Know What Lunar New Year Means and Why It’s One of the Biggest Celebrations in Asia?

Lunar New Year is an annual celebration that marks the start of a new year according to the lunar calendar. It is also called 'Spring Festival' or 'Chinese New Year'.

The Lunar New Year is a big celebration for the Asian community, especially the Chinese. This applies to the Chinese people all around the world.

According to the lunar calendar, the festival will last up to 15 days. Similar to other Chinese or Asian festivals, this celebration is also based on the observation of the moon (lunar).

The new year starts when the new moon is closest to the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

The concept and setting are pretty much similar in most Asian countries that celebrate the new year. The only difference is the name of the festival.

The festival is celebrated across multiple nations, such as China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, and many other countries that have Asian footprints.

Lunar New Year/ Chinese New Year/ Spring Festival.

The name itself is pretty reflective of its community. Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival (春节) is a widely used name for this festival within the Chinese community.

Mainland China likes to use the term 'Spring Festival', whereas other Chinese communities will simply call it 'Chinese New Year (CNY)'.

IMAGE: Kwong Wah.

The traditional Chinese calendar is a spin-off of the agriculture calendar (农历, Nong li), as it used to be a tool for farmers to determine when the harvest season would arrive.

Harvest signals the coming of spring, hence why it is also known as the Spring Festival.

Tsinoy New Year.

Tsinoy is the Philippines' version of the Lunar New Year. The Filipino Chinese (Chinoys) will celebrate the new year similarly to the Chinese New Year but with their own twist.

Celebrating Tsinoy as a holiday was not so popular until the late 1990s to early 2000s. Eventually, it developed into a national holiday granted by presidential decree.

Tikoy, noodles, and dumplings of various kinds, usually made of glutinous rice flour, are indispensable for every household because rice is a staple food and the stickiness ensures that the family stays together.

Just like Filipinos, the Chinese give a lot of importance to the celebration as a time of reunion and gathering. The stickiness and sweetness of rice cakes symbolize the wishes for a sweeter life of family members who always stick together.

T?t Nguyên ?án.

This is the Vietnamese version of Lunar New Year. It is also widely celebrated in the country.

Across Vietnam, families will reunite and honor their ancestors while praying for luck, prosperity, and health as they go into the new year.

T?t marks the first day of the Lunar New Year and the beginning of spring in the North of Vietnam. The holiday traces back to the early days of Vietnamese settlements in the Red River Delta when T?t meant a new cycle of wet rice cultivation.

Each home and office will be decorated with signs of ‘Chúc M?ng N?m M?i’ and kumquat trees or peach blossoms will be set in a place of honor. The bigger the kumquat trees, the more prosperity and health the family will receive in the new year.

IMAGE: Vietnam Plus.

T?t celebrations begin three days before the Lunar New Year and last a few days after.

Seollal.

In Korea, Lunar New Year is known as Seollal (??). It is one of the important traditional Korean holidays in the Korean culture.

This national holiday commemorates the first day of the Korean Lunar Calendar and the holiday can go on for several days.

It is marked by the gathering of family members, performing Korean rituals, eating traditional foods, playing traditional folk games, and other traditional activities.

Among the many traditions, the two that have been consistently practiced over the years are Sebae and Charye.

Sebae (??) is the act of kneeling on the ground and bowing deeply with your hands flat on the ground.

Younger people must bow deeply to their elders and wish them a happy new year. This deep traditional bow signifies respect for the elders.

IMAGE: Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art.

Charye (??) is the traditional act of setting an altar for the ancestors during Lunar New Year. Food and alcohol are set out on a table as a gift for the ancestors to celebrate the occasion together.

People will bow deeply at these tables to show respect to their ancestors.

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Cover image sourced from HONG SON/ Pexels and RDNE Stock project/ Pexels.

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