More specifically I should say “Happy Lunar New Year!”
Lunar New Year is the first day of the year based on the lunar calendar that calculates days using the lunar cycle. Although this calendar is ancient and no longer the official way to base on, the lunar calendar still heavily influences many Asian cultural traditions and celebrations. Phrases like “Chinese New Year” and “Chinese horoscopes” are known throughout the world. When in fact, Lunar New Year is one of the biggest celebration in many different Asian countries such as China, Vietnam and Singapore. While different countries celebrate in various ways and traditions, the lunar new year is all based on the ancient calendar and the 12 animal zodiacs.
2017 is the Year of the Rooster
12 animal zodiacs are as such: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, in that order. Each year the representing animal move to the next and by knowing someone’s animal zodiac sign you are able to roughly estimate their age. Similar to the astronomy horoscopes each animal has stereotypical personalities and characteristics.
Some of my own family traditions & experiences
Since there are different lunar new year traditions for everyone, I cannot speak generally. But for our own family, on lunar New Year’s Eve we try to get the whole family together for Tuan Yuan Fan (literally meaning “reunion meal”). All the siblings, cousins, distant relatives feast on delicious dishes while catching up on their lives. After dinner the party continues with Hong Bao (red envelopes filled with new money to symbolize new beginning and good fortune). Typically married adults pass them out to kids or sometimes their own parents. Luckily as one of the youngest kids in my family I haven’t had to pass them out yet! One of the most exciting things I get to do when I was little, is to stay awake past midnight. My parents told me it was called Shou Sui (literal meaning is “guarding age”). For kids to do so, it symbolizes that they are welcoming another blissful year for the prosperity & longevity of elders in the family. Behind almost every Lunar New Years tradition there was a purpose and meaning passed down through time and generations. But I think as kids we were just excited to see family, eat good food, get money and stay up late. Now that I’m older though, I can appreciate the origins more.
Now… in Sweden… at KI
As an international student, I am excited to share this with my fellow peers. As the Lunar New Year approached, we the international students gather together to cook and eat dishes from different country. The celebration included not just countries that celebrates Lunar New Year, but it included everyone, our new family. Being so far from home, it is hard to not miss them during holidays. Especially when the holidays are about celebrating family and love. Much like the western holiday seasons of Thanksgiving, St. Lucia’s Day, Christmas and New Years, you embrace family and friends wherever you may be.
Xin Nian Kuai Le “Happy New Year”
Gong Xi Fa Cai “Congratulations for prosperity & good fortune”
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