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Celebrating Lunar New Year

A woman of Asian descent is smiling at the camera. Colourful lights are in the background.

Lunar New Year is the longest and most celebrated festival of the year for many East and Southeast Asian cultures, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean communities, among others. Each culture celebrates differently with various foods and traditions that symbolize prosperity, abundance and togetherness.

We asked Christina Phomsavanh, a CT technologist at the QEII, to share some of her family’s traditions during the celebration.

What significance does Lunar New Year have for you and your family?

For me and my family, the Lunar New Year signifies good health and good fortune for the upcoming year. It also signifies a fresh start to the year.

What are some important traditions that accompany Lunar New Year for your family?

We celebrate the Lunar New Year with a family gathering; we get together and have a dinner.

Other traditions include handing out red envelopes that contain money. Typically, those handing out the red envelopes are elders or married couples and those receiving them are the children/unmarried family members. The red envelopes can contain any amount of money, no set amount. Growing up we would go around to the elders and wish each person a saying in Chinese, 新年快樂 身體健康萬事如意 恭喜發財生意興隆, 事事如意. when translated it wishes them a happy new year, good health, good fortune and that everything goes well.

Many people follow the tradition of cleaning prior to the Lunar New Year and not sweeping for three days after, because it signifies sweeping away the good fortune and luck for the New Year.

Families also cook lots of food so there are leftovers, which signifies a lot of fortune left over.

There is often the exchanging a specific type of orange when visiting anyone's home; this signifies luck and happiness/wealth. The Chinese words for orange closely resemble the works for luck and wealth. And the gold color also symbolizes prosperity.

Is there anything else you’d like others to know about Lunar New Year?

Unlike the New Year that the world is well acquainted with where there is a countdown at midnight, our family doesn't really do a countdown based off the clock. The Lunar New Year also falls on a different day each year as it follows a Lunar Calendar. Typically, it falls in January or February.

Many thanks to Christina (and her mother) for sharing their family’s traditions.

In 2024, we ring in the Year of the Dragon, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

Photo of Christina Phomsavanh, CT Technologist.

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