Wearing Red for Lunar New Year

--Informant Info--
Nationality: US
Age: 19
Occupation:
Residence: Santa Clara
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): Mandarin, Spanish

Background: My informant is a friend of mine of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese heritage. His parents are both from Taiwan and are mixed between Chinese, indigenous Taiwanese, and Japanese. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. 

Context: This conversation was recorded on a zoom meeting that we had on a Wednesday afternoon. My informant is a friend of mine, and the conversation occurred in both of our rooms. The purpose of the call was specifically so that I could gather folklore from my informant, and they were aware about that as well. During the call and in between our discussions of different folklore items, we talked socially about how we were acclimating. Thus, this conversation was more casual than the rest of my interviews. The main piece is made up of a transcription of our call.

Main Piece:

Chinese New Year. Right, everyone wants to be a red because red’s a lucky color. 

And I don’t know what the exact rationale behind it is but like apparently for certain years like it’s even more important for whatever Zodiac animal it is for that year.

To wear red because they need luck that you’re more than others. Others for some reason. So the way that my family took that was that they for Chinese New Year we buy each other gifts of red underwear, so that we would always read throughout the year. Yeah, even to this day. People still talking about the red, red underwear, both on both sides of the family both my white relatives and my Asian relatives.

Me: White relatives too?!

Yeah they’re definitely… they’re gung ho about it.

Me: OK but definitely they’re not wearing red every day of the year right?

Yeah its just more times than not.

Thoughts: I found this a particularly entertaining variation of a classical Chinese tradition of wearing red. This tradition was modified for my informant’s family so that they could wear red without showing it outwardly, and do it throughout the year rather than just one period during the lunar new year. I thought it was also really interesting that my informant’s white relatives performed and enjoyed this folklore as well. This shows that this folk practice is more tradition than heritage.