Lunar New Year, also commonly known as the Spring Festival, is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. It starts with the first new moon of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon, about 15 days later. Every year, sometime between late January and early February, an estimated 2 billion people across the globe, many of them in East and Southeast Asia, celebrate the Lunar New Year. This year the Lunar zodiac is aligned with the ‘Year of the Dragon’ which is 5th in the 12-year cycle of the Lunar Zodiac. This festival is filled with family reunions, visits to family and friends, special food and gifts over several days.
Prior to the Lunar New Year, families clean their homes to sweep away bad fortune and make room for incoming good luck. Food” preparation is also a big part of the festival in order to pay homage to gods and pray for good fortune. Common foods are dumplings, steamed fish, longevity noodles, egg rolls, and spring rolls. These represent long life, good luck, and prosperity. The usual gifts are a pair of Mandarin oranges and a red envelope with money inside.
For Lunar New Year in Thailand, people of Chinese descent usually celebrate 3 significant days, this year from 8th-10th of February. The First day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, Spending Day is a day to prepare large meals to pay homage to gods and ancestors. The second day, Worship Day is the main day that starts early in the morning to pay homage to sacred things or gods. The Final day, Celebrations Day is considered an auspicious occasion where worshippers would wear new fresh clothes and go out for holidays or nice meals.
Some ASEAN countries declare it a traditional public holiday, including Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. For Thailand, even though it is not declared a public holiday, some companies have already announced holidays for their employees.
Let's take a look at the names of Lunar New Year festivals in each country in ASEAN;
🇧🇳 Brunei Darussalam - Spring Festival
In the Chinese communities of Brunei, the dragon dance of the Han and the lion dance of the Cantonese are both used to celebrate the arrival of the lunar new year. This demonstrates a blending of Chinese cultures in Brunei.
🇮🇩 Indonesia - Imlek
People in Indonesia celebrate Imlek by going to parades and watching dragon dances in different communities.
🇲🇾 Malaysia - Kongsi Raya or Gongxi Raya
It is a fusion of Lunar New Year and Hari Raya Aidilfitri, also known as Eid al-Fitr, one of the most important festivals for Muslims in Malaysia.
🇵🇭 Philippines - The Tsinoy New Year
Chinese-Filipinos adhere to a lot of traditions that have a lot to do with luck, prosperity, health, and family ties. So naturally, they join in the festivities with great gusto.
🇸🇬 Singapore - Spring Festival
During the Lunar New Year, Singapore holds an annual event called "River Hongbao" which is one of the most highly anticipated Lunar New Year events in Singapore where Singaporeans come to soak in the festive vibes and celebrate the Lunar New Year.
🇻🇳 Vietnam – Tet (Vietnamese New Year)
It is the biggest holiday and holiest time in Vietnam when people come back to their hometown for the family’s reunion. It is also when the weather reaches its most beautiful time in a year.
Wish you happiness and prosperity in the coming Year of Dragon.
Where will you celebrate Lunar New Year with your families? Please share with us about this.