Lunar New Year


This piece is about a festival tradition at the lunar new year and the process of “wishing” something to your family members.

Main Piece:

“Every lunar new year, we go to my uncle’s house and then the entire side of my mom’s family comes. Like my grandparents, all her siblings, all their kids, their spouses. And we all have this big party, so you show up and then, um, well we usually bring food. Like a potluck situation, we’re all close. You’re in charge of this, you’re in charge of that… You bring this, you bring that… So we usually have egg rolls, this dish that has flour patties and shrimp sprinkled on it. And then we have like spring rolls and beef… We have noodles and papaya salad, like shredded young papaya that’s still green. We have a sauce with it and fish sauce with everything else. So we eat all the food and then afterwards, we cut up fruit. Fruit is a really big Asian thing for desert. Whatever is in season. Afterwards, the tradition is that it’s oldest to youngest. So all of the kids of my grandparents have to go to them and wish them something for the new year. So it’s either like good health, um, like, lots of money. Usually the grandparents will wish back lots of money or something. So we wish them good health or happiness or wisdom or whatever. So my mom has four siblings, so she is the oldest of the five, so her and my dad will go first. And the same follows for the next generation. Like then the grandkids will go and it’s the oldest there too.”


The informant is a 19 year old student who is Half-Vietnamese and Half-Polish. The tradition stems from her mother’s side. She was born in Anaheim, California, but now lives in Manhattan Beach, California. She participates in this event every year with her family.


The very specific foods that are eaten at the celebration reminds me of the very specific German foods that are eaten at celebrations in my own family. I think food and celebration are often correlated in every culture and it is interesting to examine the differences of cuisine as well. One aspect of this festival celebration is the aspect about different ages and the importance of order of birth. It seems like this culture values birth order due to the custom in this culture that oldest needs to go first.