CELEBRATE LUNAR NEW YEAR: INSPIRATION FOR THE ESEA COMMUNITY AND ALLIES.

Many Lunar New Year festivities have evolved from the traditions and the heritages they have come from. Read our snapshot and introduction into Lunar New Year as inspiration for you to find out more about this important holiday.

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year refers to Spring Festival, a national holiday which many East and South East Asian (ESEA) countries celebrate. You may have heard this being referred to as “Chinese New Year”, but many other countries outside of China celebrate this time of year with each country and culture having their own traditions.

When is Lunar New Year?

As you might have guessed, Lunar New Year doesn’t start on January 1st like our gregorian calendar year in Western countries. It follows the lunisolar calendar and can fall between January 21st and February 20th.

This year, it falls on the 12th February.

How can I celebrate Lunar New year?

Festivities and traditions vary, country to country, community to community, and even on an individual level! But there are some key themes:

Food

Food is always a big part of these festivities. Key themes on food items are to do with good luck, abundance, prosperity, and health! Be sure to try out all the different types of food items on offer, this is a great time to try something different and be able to share with others. Some food ideas to get you started:

  • Dumplings
  • Whole fish
  • Spring rolls
  • Niangao (Sticky pudding – Chinese)
  • Oranges
  • Noodles
  • banh chung (sticky rice parcels – Vietnamese)
  • Bitter melon
  • Eggs
  • Tikoy (glutinous rice dessert – Filipino)

Family and friends

Many families who celebrate Lunar New Year would have travelled back to their family homes and gathered to have a meal together. Due to the pandemic, this will not happen for many this year. Some ideas to celebrate Lunar New Year safely this year:

  • Set up a virtual call with your families & friends, and wish them a happy new year.
  • Dress up for the festivities, red is an auspicious colour for many ESEA cultures.
  • Support local ESEA communities during this time, search on IG, google, Etsy etc to support local small businesses near you.
  • Check out your local Chinatown and ESEA associations/community centres near you and see if they are taking part in any virtual sessions.

“I am an ally and want to celebrate and bring awareness to Lunar New Year, what should I consider if I set up Lunar New Year celebrations for my company?”

We’ve mentioned that many ESEA communities celebrate differently for Lunar New Year with varying levels of tradition and superstition. As allies, it is important to appreciate, but not appropriate other cultures when trying to bring positive awareness to festivities and heritages which may be different to our own.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before you set up your own celebrations as part of your organisation, company, or group.

  • Are you working with your local established ESEA community, either in your company or outside of your company to host the event?
  • Are you supporting ESEA owned businesses for your catering, gifts/prizes, entertainment?
  • Have you done your own research on top of simply “asking” those in the ESEA community on how to celebrate?
  • Are you consistently giving back to the ESEA community in other ways outside of Lunar New Year or is this a one off?
  • Is there any element of your event which might have the potential to be perpetuating negative stereotypes, generalisations, or be insensitive towards the ESEA community?

Share your thoughts in the comments below or tag us on Instagram on how you are celebrating this year!