By: Lydia Wilcox (Reporter ‘21)
Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, began on February 12th this year. This year is the year of the Ox, the second animal in the Chinese zodiac. Lunar New Year is celebrated all throughout Asia, and celebrations often last for up to fifteen days.
FCS Seniors Ellie Yang and Twyla Zhang shared with me how they each celebrate the Lunar New Year and some of their favorite traditions.
Ellie explained that she celebrates Lunar New Year for fifteen days, ending the fifteenth and final day with a special dinner. Twyla says that she typically celebrates Lunar New Year for one week, noting that each day of celebration has its own set of traditions.
One of Ellie’s beloved Lunar New Year traditions takes place on the first day. This tradition is the exchanging of red envelopes. This is a popular practice amongst family and friends, in which members of the older generations gift members of the younger generations with a red envelope filled with money. These red envelopes symbolize good luck for the new year. Furthermore, the color red itself, explained Ellie, “is a symbol of happiness and prosperity in China,” which connects to another one of Ellie’s favorite Lunar New Year traditions: dressing in all red. Like Ellie, Twyla also enjoys celebrating the first day of Lunar New Year. On the first day of Lunar New Year celebrations, Twyla says that she wears new clothes, visits with friends and family, and exchanges red envelopes.
Two Lunar New Year traditions that Ellie looks forward to are getting to watch the beautiful fireworks display and visiting the Lunar New Year flower show, which takes place in her hometown. Twyla says that her favorite tradition is visiting her mother’s hometown, where Twyla also spent most of her childhood. Because it is located far from major cities, when she is there, Twyla is able to see stars in the night sky: “I could see many stars clearly hanging in the sky, like sparkling diamonds on the dark blue silk.” Twyla also enjoys watching the Lunar New Year firework display that takes place in her mother’s hometown at midnight.
Ellie informs me one of her favorite Lunar New Year dishes is tāng yuán, a dessert made of glutinous rice and water, typically served with syrup and hot broth or boiled. Tāngyuán can also be made with a filling. Ellie said that oftentimes the meal that a family eats on the fifteenth day depends on the region in China in which they live, but barbecue is very popular. Twyla says that, in her mother’s hometown, families will sometimes go fishing in the nearby river, bringing back freshly caught fish to cook for dinner. Ellie and Twyla both agreed that one of their favorite Lunar New Year dishes is dumplings, which symbolize family unity. Twyla explained that, in ancient China, people ate dumplings in order to receive happiness and luck. In addition, dumplings are shaped like the ancient Chinese money Yuan Bao (元宝), so the dumplings are thought to bring wealth to those who eat them. Ellie told me one of her most-loved traditions is making twenty dumplings and filling four of the dumplings with one coin each. When the dumplings are served, everybody hopes to choose a dumpling with a coin inside because whoever finds a coin will be lucky.
Happy Lunar New Year!