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February 14, 2024

The Lunar New Year 2024, also referred to as Chinese New Year and Spring Festival, kicked off on February 10, with celebrations worldwide. Each year has a corresponding animal from the Chinese zodiac and 2024 marks the Year of the Dragon.

There are many customs associated with Lunar New Year festivities and we asked Tiffany Fong, Director of Human Resources at PB&W, to share some of her favorites. Tiffany acknowledges that celebrations have changed as she’s gotten older and family has become more spread out, but there are a few key traditions her family has held on to.

Lai See/Hong Bao aka red envelopes. These envelopes of cash are given by older family members to younger, unmarried ones. The envelopes are red (hong/ang means red, bao/pao means packet) with gold calligraphy, as the colors signify good fortune. I was always told to give new, crisp money that wasn’t dirty or torn.

Food, lots of food. There are a lot of traditional foods eaten during the Lunar New Year, although the types of food vary from country to country. Many traditional foods are based on how they sound in Chinese or how the food looks.  For example, fish sounds like “surplus” or shrimp is “ha” which sounds like laughter.

My family likes to make dumplings to signify wealth. Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, the more money you can make in the New Year. We also eat oranges/tangerines for fullness and wealth. Eating and displaying tangerines and oranges (especially the ones with leaves and stems still attached) is believed to bring good luck and fortune due to their pronunciation. The Chinese word for “orange” sounds the same as the word for “success.” And another favorite is noodles which are symbolic for a long life.

Decorations with symbolism. Red Chinese Lanterns — Drive off bad luck. Paper Door Banners — Best wishes for the coming year. Paper Cuttings — Luck and happiness.

Superstitions, there are a lot! The ones told by my grandparents are to avoid to not wash your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year. It’s like washing out the good luck. No cleaning or sweeping. Again, it’s like sweeping out the good fortune. No using scissors or knives as it’s bad luck. No wearing black since it’s related to death. Always were red since it’s considered lucky.

New traditions. We may start taking my kids to Chinatown to see the parade with firecrackers, lion dances and vendors selling food. I know this has become a tradition for many families as we move away from our hometowns.


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