Lunar New Year Traditions

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday on the lunisolar calendar. The traditional event is celebrated primarily by the Chinese and their Asian neighbors. The New Year starts on the first day of the lunar calendar and lasts for about 15 days. During the celebration period, it is a New Year tradition that most non-essential businesses are closed and people are allowed to take time off from work.

In the first three days, New Year traditions dictate that people should spend quality time with their families and enjoy life to their heart’s content. Popular activities include visiting friends and relatives, enjoying mouth-watering delicacies and gambling.

Giving out red envelopes or lucky packets is the Lunar New Year’s most valued tradition. This tradition is not unlike Western holiday traditions such as Christmas’ gift exchanging and Halloween’s candy galore. The only difference is the fact red envelopes are essentially cash giveaways. Each lucky packet is stuffed with an unspecified amount of money -- usually an even number. Some people like to vary the amount of money stuffed in their lucky packets. If one is lucky, he or she might receive one with the highest amount.

The likely recipients of these red envelopes are young children and teenagers. In order to be given a lucky packet, the young kid must dress in proper attire and greet an adult with words of good luck.

Each Asian country celebrates the Lunar New Year in its own unique way. Here are some popular New Year traditions observed by various countries:

1. The Chinese welcome in the New Year with spectacular displays of fireworks on New Year Eve. The welcoming, however, would not be complete without lavish early-morning parades featuring traditional lion/dragon dances and colorful costumes.

2. The Vietnamese welcome in the Lunar New Year with a symphony of firecracker explosions. At the front door of each household hang rolls of firecrackers. The amount of firecrackers depends on how much the household can afford. When the clock strikes midnight, all the firecrackers will be lighten up simultaneously creating the most disharmonious of sound. The explosions are meant to scare away evil spirits and bad lucks. This long-standing tradition was recently banned by the authorities.

3. Korean and Thai Buddhist monks share a similar tradition of welcoming in the New Year with a distinctive symphony of sounds. But instead of using firecrackers as musical instruments, they use temple bells as alternatives. At exactly midnight, temple bells around the countries simultaneously toll creating the most harmonious of sound. The tolling of bells is a call for world peace and charity.

4. The Mongolians and Tibetans welcome in the New Year with special rituals and traditional dances. It is a Tibetan New Year tradition to offer the Dalai Lama specially made ‘sacred’ pills for good luck.

In close, Lunar New Year traditions and festivities are rich and colorful, perfectly showcasing the best of the Asian culture. Enjoy this very special holiday and give yourselves a red envelope or two.