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Lunar New Year Activities: Welcoming the Year of the Dragon

By: Jessica MousseauDiversity Calendar
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Lunar New Year Activities

Curious about Lunar New Year activities? Here are some of the most common celebrations across different Asian cultures to immerse yourself in.

The Lunar New Year, known by various names such as Spring Festival in China and Tết in Vietnam, celebrates the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar. This means that the dates are determined by the moon (lunar) and the sun (solar). 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, a symbol of strength and fortune in many Asian traditions.

The New Year begins with the new moon and continues for 15 days until the full moon, marking the most important holiday in countries like China, Vietnam, Korea, and others.

Check out other cultural events in the February Diversity Calendar 2024.

Lunar New Year Activities

There are a series of Lunar New Year activities that occur before, during, and after the celebration.

Before the New Year

Across many cultures, the period leading up to the Lunar New Year is a time for thorough house cleaning, symbolizing getting rid of the past year’s bad luck and welcoming in good fortune. It is believed that you shouldn’t use brooms for the first few days of the festival, so as not to sweep away any new good luck. Many communities decorate with red, from red paint on the front to lanterns, signifying good fortune in Chinese culture and embraced by others.

During the Reunion Dinner

Families gather for a reunion dinner to celebrate what they hope for in the new year. In China, a feast might include dishes like dumplings for prosperity, while in Korea, a special meal of Tteokguk (rice cake soup) is enjoyed, symbolizing the gaining of a year in age.

During the New Year Celebrations

Some common celebrations during Lunar New Year include fireworks, parades, and the famous Lion dance. It is believed that a dancing lion will chase away evil spirits and bring good luck. This tradition, while originating in China, is enjoyed in various forms in Vietnam and other cultures.

Some families may exchange red envelopes, known as hong bao in China and lì xì in Vietnam. These envelopes, filled with money, are traditionally given to children and unmarried members of the family, symbolizing the transfer of fortune and blessings for the year ahead.

The seventh day, known in Chinese tradition as Renri or the Common Man’s Birthday, celebrates the creation of human beings. This day often involves enjoying special dishes, like the colorful Yusheng salad in Singapore and Malaysia, which is tossed high for good luck. In contrast, Korean Seollal traditions might include games like Yutnori, a board game that brings families together in laughter and strategy.

Check out more events in Diversity Calendar 2024.

What is the Lantern Festival?

The Lunar New Year activities end with the Lantern Festival, where the night sky is illuminated with lanterns, symbolizing the guiding of lost souls homes and the bright future ahead. This tradition, while having its roots in Chinese culture, is echoed in various forms across different Lunar New Year celebrations.

As we celebrate the rich traditions and shared joy of the Lunar New Year, let’s continue to embrace the diversity and cultural heritage that enrich our lives throughout the year. Our Diversity Calendar is your guide to cultural events and observances from around the globe, helping you stay connected and informed.

FAQs

What activities do you do during the Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is celebrated by various Asian cultures, each with its own unique traditions and activities. While eating festive foods like Nian Gao and playing games such as mahjong are common in Chinese celebrations, Vietnamese Tết involves giving lucky money and enjoying bánh chưng, Korean Seollal is marked by wearing hanbok and eating tteokguk, and Mongolian Tsagaan Sar features ceremonies that respect elders and traditional dishes like buuz. Acknowledging these varied traditions offers a more inclusive view of the Lunar New Year.

What is not allowed during Lunar New Year?

On Lunar New Year, several activities are traditionally avoided to ensure good luck and prosperity for the coming year. These include washing hair or clothes, which is believed to wash away good fortune, sweeping or taking out garbage, which can sweep away wealth, using sharp objects like knives and scissors, which could cut off good luck, and engaging in arguments or using unlucky words, as they are thought to bring negativity. Additionally, giving certain gifts such as clocks, which symbolize running out of time, and pears, which represent separation, is also discouraged. These customs vary across cultures but share the common goal of welcoming the new year with positivity.

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