Post by Jason Chang, who generously shared with us about this important time. Photos of the Chang and Eckhart families celebrating over the past few years. Thanks for sharing, everyone!
January 22 is Lunar New Year in 2023!
Lunar New Year refers to the start of the new calendar year that is based on months being aligned to the moon's phases, and specifically on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is why its date varies from year to year!
What's in a Name?
Lunar New Year is a celebratory occasion for many countries in Asia, that you may also hear called "Spring Festival", "Chinese New Year", "Korean New Year", or "Tet", etc. While the specific ways that this occasion is celebrated may vary from country to country, common themes include lots and lots of food, family, and superstitions (some taken more seriously than others)!
Festive Foods + Celebration
Some popular foods for the new year include sticky rice cakes, which symbolize progress, advancement, and growth, and dumplings, which symbolize wealth and prosperity due to their resemblance to money pouches. In Asia, the Lunar New Year is often observed as an extended holiday with various festivals, dances, and events, ranging from 3 days to 15 days.
For those of us growing up in the United States, the Lunar New Year represents an opportunity to gather with family and friends (for many of us friends were the family we had here), to enjoy delicious food and desserts, and opportunity to get money from your parents or elders in a red envelope or silk pouch. I remember lining up at our giant potluck gatherings and being asked to recite phrases expressing thanks and wishing prosperity to the giver as they handed out red envelopes to all the kids.
For many of us now, it is an opportunity for us to connect back to and reflect on our culture, learn about it more deeply and teach it to our kids, and understand what it means to share and celebrate it with our community, which is no longer homogenous like we found in our childhood.
Most importantly, Lunar New Year is a great excuse for us (and you) to go eat some good Asian food! Here's a cheat sheet for you this Lunar New Year season from the Chang Family to you:
As you consider how you might honor Lunar New Year, if you are not Asian American, we encourage you to talk to Asian American siblings to ask how or if they celebrate. Another honoring way to acknowledge this season if you're non-Asian is to learn! Visit the library, read online and follow accounts that can give you insight into this special time.