Lunar New Year-Year of The Tiger

Jessica Lin , Staffwriter

What is the Lunar New Year? Before the invention of the solar calendar that runs on 356 days a year, many East-Asian countries kept track of time by counting the monthly cycle of  the moon. New years come around typically in the winter where crops cannot be grown and a season of rest sets in. Lunar New Year is seen as a period of renewal and awakening across Asian cultures and seen as a way to welcome the arrival of Spring. 

 

Based on a 12 zodiac animal cycle, every year is the year of one of the animals and people identify their age by what animal year they were born from and how far their age is from a multiple of 12. The year 2022 welcomes the Tiger and different East Asian students of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Mongolian ethnicity at Woodson share their experience with Lunar New Year.  

 

Photos taken by Jessica Lin

Because the Lunar New Year follows the moon cycle, the date on the solar calendar is always shifting. While Lunar New Year is always the first day of the lunar calendar, it tends to fall sometime in late January to early February on the solar calendar. 

 

Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday and celebration of the year. Unlike in the United States, China’s winter break is centered around Chinese New Year in the January-February period as opposed to Christmas. Chinese New Year is typically filled with red colored decorations, a signal for good luck, variety of food, and festive performances. 

 

AP Biology teacher Jennifer Aitchson  talks about her experience participating in Lunar New Year. Before teaching at Woodson, Aitchson worked in China straight out of college for eight years with two years in the Jiangzhou province and six years in Tianjin. 

 

“Lunar New Year was huge in China, I think that was the only time in the year the country was quiet,” Aithchison says laughing, “All the factories were shut down, all the people were home. 

You could feel the energy leading up to it, with the markets and red things everywhere, People were just excited and then the fire crackers would start going off in the middle of the night.” says Aitchison. 

 

A difference between western and Lunar new year is the significance to culture and duration. 

Aitchison says, “as far as obsession, the western Christmas is similar to Lunar New Year in the importance of holidays, in the build up, the all consuming and traditions.” In America, New Year’s is a fun way to round out the winter break with a party and wrap up the Christmas season. In China, preparation and the build up to New Year’s Day is a large part of the celebration. 

 

“It was such an interesting experience to have the whole country lighting fireworks,” adds Aitchison. 

 

Computer Science teacher Travis Pugh explains how he was introduced to this important Chinese holiday through his wife, who grew up celebrating it in China. Now he celebrates it with his family and kids. Pugh says they “… make a big deal about it in [their]house, so [their kids] recognize the significance and have the memories.” When comparing the Solar and Lunar New Year celebrations, Pugh says he feels the main difference in the duration of the holiday. While the solar new year is usually just about the night of, the Lunar New Year can feel like a month when you add up the preparation time, two weeks of celebration, and the time afterwards. 

 

“We usually decorate the house with colorful red lanterns, make dumplings, set off fireworks, and watch the CCTV New Year performance. We will also have dinner with friends and family,” Pugh adds. Chinese New Year is a big time for family and community especially in America, Pugh explains, there are many phone calls to China the day before Chinese New Year because China is ahead by 13 hours. Pugh says, “We tried to make sure they are culturally fluent in both, so they know about the big holidays, Chinese culture, and get the best of both worlds. 

 

Senior Martin Hu recalled the great memories of lively Lunar New Year celebrations with family back in China.  While the environment is not quite as filled with excitement, Hu says Chinese New Year is still a great time to spend with family and talk more with his parents. 

 

Growing up in China, Hu says Lunar New Year was his favorite holiday to look forward to growing up as a holiday full of family, receiving candy and pocket money. Hu says, “there are a lot of conversations around the table, and I see relatives I haven’t seen in a couple months.”

 

Compared to how he celebrates Lunar New Year in America, a lot of the fun traditions, along with his relatives, are still back in China. “[I miss] being next to my Grandma when she’s cooking. She’s so busy all the time, with 20 households going to her house,” Hu continues, “I just cheer her on next to her, and she is cooking four dishes at the same time, and there’s stuff burning over there. Hu adds,“It’s just a core family experience.” 

 

Hu sees January 1 as a smaller holiday revolving around the anticipation of the one moment we step into the next year. Hu says, “[Lunar New Year] is like Christmas here. We decorate the house, prepare gifts, get candy and buy new clothes. We have to put on new clothes before we touch the floor the next morning, and check for money under our pillows.”

 

Another popular new year event is performances put on during this time of year, the large provinces have their own shows and broadcast it for people celebrating at home. “There were skits that were so good when I was younger, the skits were just top tier, and they got some of the best comedians in China on the show. There were some very good magicians, and xiang sheng 相声, stand up comedians,” adds Hu. 

 

In Korea, senior Andrew Lee says some traditional customs include eating tteoguk, a Korean soup and rice cake, wearing traditional clothes, and bowing to elders to receive money. Junior Jaewon Jung explains how the main event he celebrated was making dumplings. In Korea, students get time off from school, and relatives gather at a grandparents’ house,” he says, “It’s usually pretty big with 20-30 people in the house.”  

 

While the Lunar New Year is not as big in Japan, certain districts like Okinawa celebrate the Lunar New Year. Sophomore Shylah Carrier, says “food is always a big part of Japanese culture and any of their traditions,” and over Lunar New Year “[they] give others money in envelopes.”  Carrier has lived with her mother’s side of the family in Japan and is fluent in Japanese. She says she feels connected to Lunar New Year as it is more of a tradition and family activity. 

 

Like the other Asian cultures, Mongolia also has its new years traditions.  Sophomore Emi Dasher and Freshman Indra Ranjan explain that in Mongolian culture, the Lunar New year is celebrated a few days after the year changes and some traditions include games, eating dumplings called buuz, and family time. Ranjan says that she feels connected to Lunar new year because this is the one time they always meet with family and friends to celebrate their culture. 

 

A South East Asian culture that also celebrates Lunar New Year is the Vietnamese. Some traditions it has in common are having lots of food and the ritual of youth bowing to elders wishing them good health and receiving money in red envelopes. Junior Kaden Nguyen says “[Lunar New Year] marks a new beginning and good luck.” Nguyen explains some traditional foods they eat are Banh t

What is the Lunar New Year? Before the invention of the solar calendar that runs on 356 days a year, many East-Asian countries kept track of time by counting the monthly cycle of  the moon. New years come around typically in the winter where crops cannot be grown and a season of rest sets in. Lunar New Year is seen as a period of renewal and awakening across Asian cultures and seen as a way to welcome the arrival of Spring. 

 

Based on a 12 zodiac animal cycle, every year is the year of one of the animals and people identify their age by what animal year they were born from and how far their age is from a multiple of 12. The year 2022 welcomes the Tiger and different East Asian students of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Mongolian ethnicity at Woodson share their experience with Lunar New Year.  

 

Because the Lunar New Year follows the moon cycle, the date on the solar calendar is always shifting. While Lunar New Year is always the first day of the lunar calendar, it tends to fall sometime in late January to early February on the solar calendar. 

 

Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday and celebration of the year. Unlike in the United States, China’s winter break is centered around Chinese New Year in the January-February period as opposed to Christmas. Chinese New Year is typically filled with red colored decorations, a signal for good luck, variety of food, and festive performances. 

 

AP Biology teacher Jennifer Aitchson  talks about her experience participating in Lunar New Year. Before teaching at Woodson, Aitchson worked in China straight out of college for eight years with two years in the Jiangzhou province and six years in Tianjin. 

 

“Lunar New Year was huge in China, I think that was the only time in the year the country was quiet,” Aithchison says laughing, “All the factories were shut down, all the people were home. 

You could feel the energy leading up to it, with the markets and red things everywhere, People were just excited and then the fire crackers would start going off in the middle of the night.” says Aitchison. 

 

A difference between western and Lunar new year is the significance to culture and duration. 

Aitchison says, “as far as obsession, the western Christmas is similar to Lunar New Year in the importance of holidays, in the build up, the all consuming and traditions.” In America, New Year’s is a fun way to round out the winter break with a party and wrap up the Christmas season. In China, preparation and the build up to New Year’s Day is a large part of the celebration. 

 

“It was such an interesting experience to have the whole country lighting fireworks,” adds Aitchison. 

 

Computer Science teacher Travis Pugh explains how he was introduced to this important Chinese holiday through his wife, who grew up celebrating it in China. Now he celebrates it with his family and kids. Pugh says they “… make a big deal about it in [their]house, so [their kids] recognize the significance and have the memories.” When comparing the Solar and Lunar New Year celebrations, Pugh says he feels the main difference in the duration of the holiday. While the solar new year is usually just about the night of, the Lunar New Year can feel like a month when you add up the preparation time, two weeks of celebration, and the time afterwards. 

 

“We usually decorate the house with colorful red lanterns, make dumplings, set off fireworks, and watch the CCTV New Year performance. We will also have dinner with friends and family,” Pugh adds. Chinese New Year is a big time for family and community especially in America, Pugh explains, there are many phone calls to China the day before Chinese New Year because China is ahead by 13 hours. Pugh says, “We tried to make sure they are culturally fluent in both, so they know about the big holidays, Chinese culture, and get the best of both worlds. 

 

Senior Martin Hu recalled the great memories of lively Lunar New Year celebrations with family back in China.  While the environment is not quite as filled with excitement, Hu says Chinese New Year is still a great time to spend with family and talk more with his parents. 

 

Growing up in China, Hu says Lunar New Year was his favorite holiday to look forward to growing up as a holiday full of family, receiving candy and pocket money. Hu says, “there are a lot of conversations around the table, and I see relatives I haven’t seen in a couple months.”

 

Compared to how he celebrates Lunar New Year in America, a lot of the fun traditions, along with his relatives, are still back in China. “[I miss] being next to my Grandma when she’s cooking. She’s so busy all the time, with 20 households going to her house,” Hu continues, “I just cheer her on next to her, and she is cooking four dishes at the same time, and there’s stuff burning over there. Hu adds,“It’s just a core family experience.” 

 

Hu sees January 1 as a smaller holiday revolving around the anticipation of the one moment we step into the next year. Hu says, “[Lunar New Year] is like Christmas here. We decorate the house, prepare gifts, get candy and buy new clothes. We have to put on new clothes before we touch the floor the next morning, and check for money under our pillows.”

 

Another popular new year event is performances put on during this time of year, the large provinces have their own shows and broadcast it for people celebrating at home. “There were skits that were so good when I was younger, the skits were just top tier, and they got some of the best comedians in China on the show. There were some very good magicians, and xiang sheng 相声, stand up comedians,” adds Hu. 

In Korea, senior Andrew Lee says some traditional customs include eating tteoguk, a Korean soup and rice cake, wearing traditional clothes, and bowing to elders to receive money. Junior Jaewon Jung explains how the main event he celebrated was making dumplings. In Korea, students get time off from school, and relatives gather at a grandparents’ house,” he says, “It’s usually pretty big with 20-30 people in the house.”  

 

While the Lunar New Year is not as big in Japan, certain districts like Okinawa celebrate the Lunar New Year. Sophomore Shylah Carrier, says “food is always a big part of Japanese culture and any of their traditions,” and over Lunar New Year “[they] give others money in envelopes.”  Carrier has lived with her mother’s side of the family in Japan and is fluent in Japanese. She says she feels connected to Lunar New Year as it is more of a tradition and family activity. 

 

Like the other Asian cultures, Mongolia also has its new years traditions.  Sophomore Emi Dasher and Freshman Indra Ranjan explain that in Mongolian culture, the Lunar New year is celebrated a few days after the year changes and some traditions include games, eating dumplings called buuz, and family time. Ranjan says that she feels connected to Lunar new year because this is the one time they always meet with family and friends to celebrate their culture. 

 

A South East Asian culture that also celebrates Lunar New Year is the Vietnamese. Some traditions it has in common are having lots of food and the ritual of youth bowing to elders wishing them good health and receiving money in red envelopes. Junior Kaden Nguyen says “[Lunar New Year] marks a new beginning and good luck.” Nguyen explains some traditional foods they eat are Banh tet and Thit Kho. Banh tet is a dish of meat and bean paste surrounded by green sticky rice. Thit Kho is a braised pork and egg dish. Sophomore Enzo Hiu explains that Eden Center is a Vietnamese strip mall that celebrates Lunar New Year as a cultural community. “We [also] go to Eden Center with family and friends and watch the lion dance and firecrackers,” Nguyen says. 

 

Hiu says “It’s not only [celebrating with] family, but friends and the community. It brings me closer to my culture because I get to meet new people, see new things, and just come together with the community under one event and have a good time.”

 

 Nguyen says, “[Lunar New Year] makes me feel like I’m a part of something that is unique to my own culture.”

 

et and Thit Kho. Banh tet is a dish of meat and bean paste surrounded by green sticky rice. Thit Kho is a braised pork and egg dish. Sophomore Enzo Hiu explains that Eden Center is a Vietnamese strip mall that celebrates Lunar New Year as a cultural community. “We [also] go to Eden Center with family and friends and watch the lion dance and firecrackers,” Nguyen says.

 

Hiu says “It’s not only [celebrating with] family, but friends and the community. It brings me closer to my culture because I get to meet new people, see new things, and just come together with the community under one event and have a good time.”

 

 Nguyen says, “[Lunar New Year] makes me feel like I’m a part of something that is unique to my own culture.”