Happy Lunar New Year! Today our team started our celebration with treats from Mei WA Chinese Bakery located in the Great Wall Mall! In honor of this holiday, we’d like to share a couple of fun facts:
Lunar New Year, sometimes referred to as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is an important celebration recognized by several Asian cultures, including within the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities. The start of the Lunar New Year falls on a different day each year and is determined by the first new moon that occurs after the end of January. Celebrations typically last for 15 days, until the next full moon. The new year is seen as a time for both rebirth and reunion, and these communities practice this belief by feasting and honoring their household and ancestors.
Like most holidays, food plays an important role in these celebrations. It is common for families to make dishes that represent luck, prosperity, and other things to wish for in the new year. In China, families will frequently serve whole cooked fish to promote abundance because the Mandarin word for “surplus” (余, yú) is a homophone of “fish” (鱼, yú). Parts of the fish are typically saved to eat on the following day to represent the surplus continuing in the future. For some, chicken is believed to signify family togetherness, and is served whole with chicken being offered to deceased ancestors. Dumplings are a staple in most Lunar New Year celebrations and are thought to bring wealth to those eating them because of their resemblance to a currency used in imperial China. In Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is called Tết, and families will make Bánh chung (sticky rice cakes) and red sticky rice (Xôi Gấc) because its vibrant color is believed to symbolize good luck.
The zodiac also plays a large role in the Lunar New Year. The Chinese calendar operates on a 12-year cycle, with each year representing a different animal. These include the the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. 2022 marks the year of the tiger, which denotes bravery, leadership, and strength. You can learn your Chinese zodiac here. In addition to the animals five elements are also recognized on the lunar calendar. Each year is associated with an animal that corresponds to an element, with 2022 being the year of the water tiger.
There are several ways you can join in on the celebrations right here in Seattle! Visit your local Asian-owned restaurant and order a traditional Lunar New Year meal! The Asian America community is also hosting several events to celebrate. You can find just a few of these events listed here.
Want to learn more? Visit the links below to read additional facts and history!