By Milla Nguyen
Now, the start of the new lunar year of 2021, the year of the Ox. Lunar new years are based on the lunar calendar which have been dated all the way back to the 14th century B.C. during the Shang Dynasty. Many aspects factor into the calendar such as the timing of solstices, equinoxes, and other Chinese ideologies such as Yin and Yang (harmonious balance).
It is reported that the new cycle of the moon lasts for 15 days ,and is welcomed by an array of festivities such as the Festival of Lanterns. The Chinese calendar encompasses the twelve zodiac animals , which correlate with each of the twelve months.
During this holiday, many households light various lanterns and hang them up or release them into the sky. Food and incense are offered to Asian deities and are also offered to represent the memory of loved ones. Scrolls are painted with phrases that read “fortune” to bring good luck to the new year. Fireworks and firecrackers are common at these festivals to signify that light conquers the darkness of the world. Common colors include vibrant reds, violets, golds, and pink to symbolize the prosperity of the good.
Food is another important aspect of this holiday. Many Asian households gather around their kitchens to cook and spend time with each other before enjoying the meal during the night time. Round-shaped dumplings that resemble the moon are put in steam pots. Salted fish, rice, and long noodles are tasty foods that are made by the family. Other countries like to purchase roasted pork/ expensive meats and boiled vegetables. For snacks and desserts, many people like to make or purchase mooncakes which are pastries filled with egg yolks, red bean paste, lotus seed filling, and matcha cream. Other snacks include sesame rice balls, red bean pudding, and walnut cookies.
In many parts of China, it is tradition for people to receive and give out red envelopes. They are called “hongbao” in Mandarin and “lai see” in Cantonese. They represent good luck and protection against bad luck/spirits in the new year. They can be mass produced on hand crafted and the red envelopes are typically embossed in gold foil of the zodiac animal of that year. In this case, this would be the Ox.
Historically, Chinese New Year uplifted traditions that surrounded Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism, and other folk stories but with the progressiveness of the world and of time, it is not particularly seen as a limited religious holiday. Similar to the change of how Christmas and other universal holidays are celebrated.
And while China has most history with the holiday, various Asian countries have a unique and vibrant way of celebrating it.
Milla Nguyen (she/her) is a sophomore at Arizona State University where she is majoring in Fashion and Film and Media Production. She looks forward to discovering what the world has to offer in terms of global fashion studies, trends, and entertainment news. She's excited to discuss topics of cultural diversity, women's rights, and societal limitations related to impoverished communities. In her spare time, she loves to curate photoshoots, paint, and listen to music. Her advice is to love those around you and see the world in a kaleidoscopic lense - by taking the scenic route.
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