SAN FRANCISCO – The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is based on the cycles of the moon and falls on a different day each year. It marks the beginning of a new lunar calendar and is a celebration of the arrival of spring. It is known by various names to Asian communities around the world, the most commonly used being Chinese New Year or Chinese “Chunjie”, mainly by the Chinese diaspora around the world. Other names include Vietnamese tet, Korean solnal, and Tibetan losar.

Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinese culture usually last 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival on the last day.

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The Year of the Rabbit in 2023 will be the first Lunar New Year is celebrated in California as an official state holiday. This is the first time in the US that this has been done for the Asian community, an act by California to show its solidarity with the Asian-American community through a wave of anti-Asian hatred and violence that has grown since The COVID-10 pandemic.

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill on declaring the Lunar New Year as a public holiday. He has signing the messagehe wrote that the act “…recognizes the diversity and cultural significance that Asian Americans bring to California and provides an opportunity for all Californians to share in the meaning of the Lunar New Year.”

How it is celebrated

Spring cleaning is a routine for those who celebrate the season. Preparing for good luck and happiness for the year is considered an important practice before the new year begins.

Staying up late to ring in the new year, as is customary in American culture, is also common. However, fireworks and firecrackers, as well as lion and dragon dances, are considered additional elements that ward off evil spirits and ward off bad luck.

Giving children and the elderly red bags filled with crisp dollar bills is another important feature of the season. Red packets symbolize good luck, dollar bills should be a round, even number, and the act of giving and receiving one signals an exchange of blessings.

“Happy Meal”

Dottie Lee, Rosetta Stone Mandarin voice coach, explains: “There are certain must-haves such as fish, tofu, bok choy and of course noodle soup – the traditional dish of choice. Noodles are believed to bring good luck , fish rhymes with leftovers, bok choy and tofu symbolize peace and protection.”

Depending on the region and country, other foods are staples, such as sweet glutinous rice cakes (nian gao), glutinous rice balls (tang yuan), and tik ko ladoo, a crispy ball made of sesame seeds and toffee.

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Family visits and gatherings with friends, like the American Thanksgiving, take center stage in the Lunar New Year.

The Chinese greet each other with kind words and phrases to wish for health, wealth and luck when meeting each other during this period.

Traditional greetings include:

  • Gong Si Fa Tsai: May great wealth and prosperity be with you.
  • Chu Ru Ping An: Travel safely to and from home.
  • Bu Bu Gao Sheng: May you be promoted at every turn. May you constantly grow and rise.

May you have a prosperous and healthy Lunar New Year!

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