Growing up as a first-generation Asian American, it’s easy to forget your roots and culture, especially when you live in a community where there’s less than 5% Asians. There are days when I feel like I wish I made more of an effort into learning about my culture – which I tried to. I took Mandarin Chinese all throughout high school and then one semester of Vietnamese. With that being said, there are still a lot of things I want to know.
Happy Year of the Pig 2019!
Out of all the Asian traditions and celebrations, Lunar New Year is probably the most important and celebrated one. I mean, did you know that the whole holiday lasts 15 days? CRAZY.
Here are some of my favorite Lunar New Year traditions I loved growing up.
In Vietnamese, it’s called lì xì and in Mandarin, it’s called 红包. In case you did not know, red is a lucky color in the Asian culture. Inside these red envelopes is money! Sometimes there is a lottery ticket inside, but most of the time it is cash. The amount of money varies and is usually given by married adults or elders. I remember the first time hearing about this, I told my mom that I never wanted to get married or grow old, haha.
One of my favorite memories during the Lunar New Year is the lion dance! Growing up, my family and I would go to our local Vietnamese church or temple, and watch the lion dance. I loved going to the temple. It’s always so fun with the beating of drums and cymbals. The lion itself usually consists of 2 people and the dance is always so elaborated. I’ve had friends who used to lion dance and the amount of practice and work they put into choreography is crazy.
Who doesn’t love food! One of my fondest memory growing up would be making dumplings. Some of the dumplings we made, we would insert a peanut. With that, if you ate the dumpling with the peanut then you have good luck for the new year! Dumplings are considered to be lucky since they look like gold ingots in the ancient days. In addition to dumplings, egg rolls are also so good! One of my favorites during this festival. Another food that will bring good fortune is oranges or pomelo. Not a big fan of oranges or pomelo, to be honest, so I don’t really have any comment haha.
Here is a list of some lucky foods to eat during the Lunar New Year.
Clean Clean Clean!
While this isn’t really one of my favorite tradition, it is still a tradition. In preparation for Lunar New year, my mom would make my sister and I clean the house spotless. Starting the new year spotless and dust-free is always a good luck sign. It’s also said that you should not dust on new year’s day because you could potentially dust off any good fortune.
Those are my favorite traditions growing up! I’m pretty sure my family and I didn’t celebrate it as much as some of my friend’s families. We pretty much celebrated it one day instead of the whole two weeks. Also, if you’re planning on ordering anything from China (like eBay) just know that it’s gonna take a while since everyone in Asian is probably celebrating, haha.
Anyways, happy Lunar New Year! Chúc mừng năm mới! 新年快乐!