Lunar New Year

My informant usually does not do as much as some other people may do on Lunar New Year because her parents are immigrants and the culture is not as strong here, but they typically have a large spread of different foods that are typically eaten during New Years and they eat together while watching the official Chinese broadcast of the Lunar New Year celebrations. They usually wear something red, as it is a lucky color and in old Chinese legends, it was one of the things that scared away a monster. Depending on the year, they might also have family friends over for a potluck.

My informant would celebrate on the lunar New Year’s Eve, the day of Lunar New Year, and the celebration lasts for 15 days after the first day. The 15th day is the lantern festival and she eat tangyuan for good fortune. In China, this celebration is a holiday so most people go home to celebrate. However, my friend lives in the United States, so they usually celebrate on their own, have friends come over and video call their extended family. They perform this because they believe it will bring their family good fortune over the next year. Each food item has special symbols, like fish being a homophone for a surplus or wealth, for good fortune as well as other things to “beckon” good fortune, health and general wishes for wellbeing in.

Such things include red outside the house. Firecrackers are also used because of an old myth that a monster kept attacking a village and the village realized they could use the color red and firecrackers to scare the monster away.

It appears that this tradition is widely practiced and based heavily on old myths and is adaptable even outside of the region that the tradition originated from. While the ritual may have changed as the United States does not have a holiday everywhere for Lunar New Year and they are further from their extended family, they found a way to celebrate and continue to complete this good fortune ritual and celebrate.