Lunar New Year has always been one of my favorite holidays growing up. If you celebrate Lunar New Year, you might know why! I love seeing all my relatives and receiving (and giving) red envelopes. Red envelopes (also called lì xì in Vietnamese or 红包 in Chinese) are a staple during this holiday. It’ll hold either brand new crispy money or a lottery ticket.
Year of the Ox – 2021
Although I never really kept the money that I get from red envelopes – I had to hand it over to my mom to save for my college funds, but it was always so fun. My cousin and I would always compare how much we got during this holiday when we were younger. Now looking back, we were probably super greedy little kids, haha.
For me, I understood the importance of earning and saving money at a young age. Not because my mom was a single parent but also because our culture puts a lot of emphasis on wealth and having a good career and family.
Since dating Tyler, I feel like I’ve become extremely Americanized, which is not a bad thing but because of the language and cultural differences between my parents, relatives and elders, I still want to make sure that I can relate and keep up with them. I decided to host a Lunar New Year party with my friends to share my culture and traditions with them.
Celebrating Lunar New Year with Friends
I ordered mostly Vietnamese food since that’s what I’m most familiar with – I’m more Vietnamese culturally than Chinese, even though my blood is technically Chinese. The Vietnamese dishes I ordered are chè xôi nước, bánh bèo, xủi cảo, bánh bò nướng, and chả giò. I also had Hello Kitty cookies that were adorable to look at, but terrible to eat.
After eating, I also passed out red envelopes to my friends. In the red envelopes, it was random between the amount of $0.08, $1, $5, and $10 bills.
The Meaning of Red Enevelopes
Depending on the culture, red envelopes can mean different things. Each culture has different ways of celebrating the Lunar New Year. I’m a blend of Chinese and Vietnamese traditions. Red envelopes are usually given from elders and married couples to the younger generation. Once you have a job, you’re supposed to give your parents red envelopes with a generous amount as a way of giving back to them. I’ve also been told that the money in red envelopes must be new for good luck. Creases and wrinkled money are considered bad luck.
There are so many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year.
The Zodiac Animals are also another favorite of mine for this holiday.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
I love learning more about each animal – there’s a really great Anime called Fruits Basket that talks a lot about the cycle of these animals. I’m the year of the Rat, Tyler is a Pig, Varun is a Tiger, Kyle is a Rabbit, Patrick is an Ox, Lydia is a Dragon, Jasmine is an Ox, Cameron is a Rabbit, and Gabe is a Tiger.
One difference between Chinese and Vietnamese in terms of the Zodiac Animals is that there is no Rabbit in Vietnamese. In the Vietnamese Zodiac, the cat is in replacement for the rabbit. In the Chinese folktale, the Rat is the start of the animal cycle. Legend has it that the Rat rode on the back of the Ox and jumped off right when they approached the gate, making the Rat the first animal. The story of why the Cat is not part of the Chinese cycle is also interesting – read why the Cat is not part of it.
One of my friends mentioned that since Tyler (a Pig) is the last animal of the cycle, I have him wrapped around my finger. Not sure how true that is, but I do love hearing that.
Reading the personality and characteristics of the Zodiac Animals is so fascinating to me. Personally, I find it a bit more accurate than Astrology, haha.
Anyway, I’m horrible at remembering to take photos when my friends are over. I get so caught up in talking to them that I never take good photos. Hopefully, these will suffice!