Lunar New Year typically falls sometime between January 21st and February 20th annually. It’s called the Lunar New Year because it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendars traditional to many Asian countries — including but not limited to China, South Korea, Tibet and Vietnam — which are regulated by the cycles of the moon and sun. The holiday is all about luck, health, and reuniting with family.
Traditionally, people identify Chinese New Year as THE Lunar New Year, but we must remember that not all Asian experiences are the same. Check out these links for more information on each culture’s celebrations:
- Seollal (Korean New Year)
- Chinese New Year
- Tet (Vietnamese New Year)
- Tsagaan Sar (Mongolian New Year)
- Losar (Tibetan New Year)
We asked RVers who celebrate Lunar New Year to tell us a bit about what the holiday means to them, their favorite Lunar New Year memories, and how their communities can join the celebration — here’s what they had to say!
How do you celebrate Lunar New Year?
Dr. Hanh, Sr. Director of Medical Affairs | “We tidy our houses in advance of the New Year and then just EAT and hang out with family. We also pray and wish each other great fortune, health, wealth, and happiness. With everyone being geographically distributed, it is a mad dash of Facebook messages and phone calls. As an elder cousin, etc., I also have to give out A LOT of money, so I make sure to send that out in advance so that my mother can distribute the money to the kids for me because I’m not there.”
Amy, Director of Content | “Before I moved to Seattle, I would go visit my parents and we would then go to one (or both if we were ambitious!) of our grandparents’ homes to have a big dumpling luncheon with our extended family. The children would get red envelopes and covertly count how much money they got and plotted how to spend it. These days, because I live a 4-5 hour plane ride away and don’t get time off for Chinese New Year, I spend it in Seattle with a close friend or two and we’ll make loads of my favorite dumplings (pork and chives).”
Jelisa, Associate | “On the days leading up to Lunar New Year, we always clean the house (like every single nook and cranny) for good luck. On the day of, during the morning, my family and I, all dressed in red, will always watch the CCTV broadcast of the New Year celebration in China. We always look forward to any of the dance programs and the magic shows! Afterwards, my family and I always have a big feast that always contains fish. We never finish eating the fish on the first day. Not finishing the fish symbolizes that we have some leftover luck and fortune that will continue for the rest of the year. Usually after the meal, the children go up to the parents to ask for red pockets and wish them good fortune and health.”
What is your favorite memory of Lunar New Year?
Amy, Director of Content | “My mother criticizing my dumpling folding technique like any Chinese mother would do, which I weirdly remember with great fondness.”
Heather, Assistant Marketing Manager | “Last year, we made tong yuen (chewy dumplings made with glutinous rice flour; we filled ours with sesame seeds and sweetened coconut). That night of laughing at how bad my cousins and I were at making them, and stuffing our faces despite how full we were, is something I miss.”
Katie, Product Analyst | “My favorite memory is from college when I got szechuan food on Lunar New Year with my other friends who celebrated it. We also went to see a Lunar New Year festival show our campus put on.”
What is something a coworker or friend can do to celebrate Lunar New Year in your culture?
Dr. Hanh, Sr. Director of Medical Affairs | “Wish me happy New Year and wish me good health, wealth, and great fortune for the year. Wish that I have only great luck and no bad luck.”
Jelisa, Associate | “Wear red and check out some performances from around the globe to absorb and learn something about how each nation celebrates Lunar New Year! For fun, you can also read up on your Zodiac sign. If you’re the year of the Ox, definitely wear red this year and throughout the year or you will have bad luck!”
Jacqueline, Outreach Strategist & Lucy, Associate | “There are many foods you can make or buy that have special cultural meaning on Lunar New Year. For example, lucky foods for Chinese people include: dumplings and oranges for wealth, fish for abundance/prosperity, and nian gao (rice cakes) for a raise!”
What does Lunar New Year mean to you?
Dr. Hanh, Sr. Director of Medical Affairs | “It represents the optimism, joy, and hope that we all have for the future and that we all bring our families and friends with us into this new experience with us. Unlike Caucasian New Year, I find that there is less focus on the previous year or reflection on the accomplishments or even the sadness of the previous year. It’s very much focused on the hope and promise of the year to come.”
Amy, Director of Content | “Family and reconnection.”
Heather, Assistant Marketing Manager | “There were times growing up when I didn’t feel Chinese enough. Lunar New Year was one of the few days when the language and cultural barriers separating my older relatives and me weren’t as overwhelming. I was showered with treats and lucky red envelopes, treated the same as my other cousins, even if I couldn’t speak more than a few sentences of Cantonese.”
Jelisa, Associate | “It’s a time where I feel really thankful and grateful that everyone I love can gather around a very large table of food and eat till our bellies are full. I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
Katie, Product Analyst | “I love LNY because I feel like it’s a second beginning after the calendar new year. I also think seeing the growth of its celebration indicates how Asian cultures are becoming more represented in the US.”
We hope that this post has helped enrich your knowledge of Lunar New Year, and equally hope that this new year brings you wealth, prosperity and health!