Although the term “Chinese New Year” and “Lunar New Year” are used interchangeably, Lunar New Year is actually celebrated in most Asian countries.
The holiday is the first day of the year on the lunar calendar, but the interpretation of starting and end dates of the year varies in some countries. Therefore, the celebrations are held on different dates for different amounts of time.
Countries that celebrate the holiday include Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and more. Common threads of the Lunar New Year celebration are the ideas of reuniting with extended families and wishing for good fortune. Moreover, many have a tradition of giving lucky money to children and elderly people and honor their ancestors.
Despite some similarities, the ways each country celebrates the holiday are very distinct. The red decorations that we are familiar with on Lunar New Year celebrations do not necessarily exist in all Asian countries’ traditions.
For example, on Vietnamese Tết Nguyên Đán the streets and houses are decorated with flowers. Traditionally, they greet the elders with traditional greetings, wishing them longevity and prosperity.
Korean Lunar New Year is called Seollal. On Seollal, Koreans perform a ritual of filial piety called Sebae by a traditional bow to the elders and eat traditional rice cake soup. Oftentimes they wear their traditional clothing called Hanbok.
The ideas of celebrating Lunar New Year are similar, but they are surely very different holidays according to their own traditions. As the Asian population grows in the United States, the importance of learning more about Asian culture is increasing.
Nowadays, there are a number of Lunar New Year festivals in the United States. Even in a time like this, it is important to learn about and enjoy the festivals of different cultures.