Lunar New Year

Today marks the first day of the first month of the new year, based on the Chinese lunar calendar. For millions of Chinese worldwide, the Lunar New Year is the single most important annual holiday. It is a time for family and friends, food and feasting, as well as fun and festivities. 20130210-102721.jpgEven if you aren’t ethnically Chinese, the start of the Lunar New Year is an excellent opportunity to consider doing the following:

1. Clean house
It is a tradition for the Chinese to do a deep cleaning of their house in preparation for the new year, and what better time than now to purge clutter and get organized, or even an excuse to redecorate. The reasoning behind this spring cleaning is to literally “sweep out the old in order to usher in the new.” Cleaning house also means settling all unfinished business to start afresh for the new year: Paying off debts, settling disputes, and reconciling any outstanding matters so they don’t carry forward to the new year. Cleaning house, both literally and figuratively, is a great way to start the year with a clean slate.

2. Wear red
The color red is associated with the Lunar New Year, whether it is found in red clothes, red decorations, or red envelopes. To the Chinese, red is associated with joy and happiness, luck and auspiciousness, as well as wealth and fortune. In scientific studies, wearing the color red has been proven to be more attractive, as the vibrant hue is psychologically associated with power and desirability. Not only does this color carry much meaning, but it also affects our perception and behavior in profound ways. Moreover, to celebrate the new year it is also customary to wear new clothes. Knowing this, what better way to welcome the new year than to go out and buy something new, something red?

3. Spend time with family
Spending quality time with family is arguably the most important aspect of the Lunar New Year. Often, the evening preceding New Year’s Day is a festive occasion for Chinese families, including mine, to gather together for an annual reunion dinner. Our dinner table is filled with dishes that signify prosperity and abundance – tangerine oranges, fish, glass noodles, sticky rice, rice cake, and shrimp, among others. Another annual post-dinner tradition for my family is for all the kids to perform a talent in order to receive red envelopes with money. And so for me, the start of the new year is a wonderful reminder of the significance of family. 20130210-115429.jpgAs I’ve gotten older, I sincerely cherish celebrating the Lunar New Year. Not only does it help me reconnect with my roots and celebrate my culture, but also allows me to be merry with my entertainingly chaotic extended family. Indeed, it is an annual holiday that is much anticipated and even more appreciated.

Best,
Phoebe

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