Chinese Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China and is celebrated in several other Asian countries like Vietnam.
Festive traditions and beliefs include:
- Lunar New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day feature family rituals like a night of unity, reunion, harmony, and paying respects to ancestors. Kind of like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Rockin’ Eve all rolled into one! Eating hot pot together is common.
- Kids get red envelopes with money and can stay up late playing games. Seniors do the longevity vigil as a positive sign of their vitality and life span. Popular dishes include anything whole (complete) or long (longevity): Whole chicken (more auspicious than broken pieces of chicken); Whole fish (don’t flip the fish, akin to old fisherman’s tale of flipping a boat); long noodles, long leafy greens, long string beans!
- New Year’s is celebrated over 15 days. During that time, most shops are closed. Everyone is out grocery shopping, cleaning house, getting finances in order, visiting with family and cooking!
- Lion dancing and setting off loud fire crackers are another tradition to chase away demons and bring good luck to businesses and communities. (Traditionally all-male dancers, I was in the first Women’s Lion Dance Troupe in New England! It’s much harder than it looks “lunging, squatting, bringing the huge lion head to life, performing a story, working the mouth, twitching the ears, all at the same time. It was a great learning experience not to mention work out!)
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