Red envelopes. New Year’s Eve dinner. Dumplings. Lion Dancing. Red and gold. Why are these things relevant during the Lunar New Year? What other traditions are there?
Lunar New Year is more than money in red envelopes or meeting distant relatives during the annual family get together. Just like how Christian faith has turned Christmas into such a family-centric holiday, Lunar New Year is rooted in Buddhist and Taoist traditions that similarly emphasize the significance of family reunions and ending and starting a new year together.
In Mandarin, Lunar New Year is called 農曆新年 (nóng lì xīn nián), but it is also known as the spring festival (春節 – chūn jié), representing the arrival of spring. Spring means gardening season, and gardening by the phases of the moon is a practice long been used by farmers to help determine the best times for sowing, planting, and harvesting their crop throughout the seasons.
Disclaimer: We will be using the terms “Lunar New Year” and Chinese New Year” interchangeably, but if you’re curious about why some would prefer one over the other, check out:
Happy Lunar New Year! Happy Chinese New Year! — What’s the difference and why it matters