During the month of January, Lan Su hosts a display of New Year's traditions from countries throughout Asia. New Year in Asia is ushered in on different days of the year but often in keeping with the lunar calendar. In preparation for Chinese New Year on February 5 - 19, learn about the New Year traditions from six countries in Asia.
Save the Date: Celebrate Chinese New Year — Year of the Pig at Lan Su Chinese Garden this February 5 - 19, 2019. Learn more about Chinese New Year at Lan Su »
Chinese New Year, known as the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday celebrated in China and by Chinese families around the world. Preparations for the holiday begin with families cleaning their homes thoroughly to get rid of any bad luck which might have collected during the year. Traditionally, food and paper icons are offered to gods and ancestors in home altars and temples. Elders give out money to children in red envelopes called hongbao. Families come together for feasting featuring long noodles to symbolize longevity and the last course, fish for abundance. The excitement of Chinese New Year culminates with firecrackers, colorful lion and dragon dancers, and loud drums and cymbals to chase out the bad of the old year and welcome the new life of spring.
Also known as Tet, this important family celebration begins on the new moon and ends 7 days later with festive street dragon processions. Like the Chinese, Vietnamese traditions include the Kitchen God who reports on the family to the Jade Emperor in heaven. Family members placate the Kitchen God by burning gold leaf paper and offering live carp in a bucket of water on a family altar for the Kitchen God to ride up to heaven. Loud celebrations are held to ward off the bad and bring good fortune for the New Year including lion dancing called Mua Lan in Vietnamese.
Tsagaan Sar, meaning “white moon is a big family celebration of multiple generations gathering to bring in the New Year. Preparations like thoroughly cleaning the ger, or yurt and making hundreds of buuz, a steamed dumpling filled with meat begin a month before. On the morning of Tsagaan Sar people get up before sunrise, put on their new deel (a traditional costume), and walk in a direction prescribed by the zodiac to symbolize starting the New Year in the right way. Men will climb to the nearest mountain to watch the sunrise and women will make milk tea as an offering to earth and god for best wishes in the coming year.
The Korean New Year, Seollal, usually lasts 3 days. The main custom of this holiday is the ritual of charye which is honoring the ancestors, those family members who have passed. Female relatives prepare food for the ancestors and male relatives do the serving. Then the whole family participates in the final step called eumbok, by eating the food and thus gaining the ancestors blessings for the coming year. Children and younger members of the family perform the sebae, a deep formal bow of respect before the oldest member of the family. A well done sebae results in a gift of money from older members of the family.
Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873 and their New Year celebration moved from the lunar calendar to the first day of January. At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples throughout Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief. Every house is thoroughly swept and dried beans are scattered in every room of the house to ward off bad luck. Near January 1, many Japanese households take part in the annual tradition of mochitsuki, the pounding of rich to make mochi which is eaten in both sweet and savory dishes. Japanese children often receive gifts of money known as otoshidama, similar to the Chinese red envelopes.
The traditional Buddhist festival of Songkran marks the beginning of the Thai New Year. The word Songkran is derived from Sanskrit which means astrological passage. Many know Songkran as the Water Festival because by ritually pouring water, the negativity of the previous year is washed away. Today in big cities like Bangkok, there are street parties with people using water guns, balloons, and other devices to celebrate with a huge water fight. Traditionally on the second day of Songkran, many families rise early and visit a Buddhist temple giving alms to the monks. They also participate in ritually pouring water over statues of the Buddha
Try out these New Year's wishes. "Happy New Year!"
Gong xi fa cai
Chuc mung nam moi
Saehae bok mani badeuseyo
Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu
Sa was dee pee mai
In Mongolia the common New Year's greeting is Amar baina uu? which means "Are you living peacefully?"
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