Lunar New Year :: Traditions and Festivities

Lunar New Year:: Traditions and Festivities | Houston Moms Blog

My golden pig arrived weighing a whopping 13 pounds on a stormy afternoon in the Spring of 2008. He had a full head of dark hair and rolls upon rolls of adorable baby chub. He was predetermined by the Chinese zodiac to be the luckiest member in our family because golden status comes only once every 600 years. He’s promised a good life, lots of friendships, and incredible wealth. I wonder about that now as I stare at the sloppy state of his bedroom, his dislike for chores, and his love for lazy days.  “You’re such a PIG,” I would scream out only to be corrected with, “You forgot GOLDEN!” That, my dear friends, would be my second born son. I guess golden status has totally gotten to his head.

Fast forward twelve years and it’s again the year of the pig {earth pig to be exact}. Lunar New Year is celebrated among the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean communities and falls on Tuesday, February 5th. We celebrate the arrival of Spring and the first day of the lunar calendar. Lots of preparations are made leading up to this day and many days of celebrations to follow, depending on the culture.   

Lunar New Year:: Traditions and Festivities | Houston Moms Blog

Traditions from one Vietnamese mom to her daughter ::

  1. Make sure that your house is SPOTLESS.  If you have ever thought about the KonMari method, this is the time to jump on the bandwagon. You want to get rid of all the bad luck from the previous year and sweep it all away. Whatever you do, you must not clean on Lunar New Year because it’s deemed unlucky {according to my mom}.
  2. Wear new clothes. It’s the first day of a new year with new beginnings, and looking your best will bring good fortune. My mom used to make us wear our traditional Vietnamese attire, but I can’t for the life of me get my children to even try it on {except for the toddler. She will do anything for candy}.  Instead, I buy them a new outfit with a red shirt because red is lucky {that’s what my mom said}.
  3. Brand new, crisp dollar bills are a must for filling red envelopes. You can exchange for new bills at your local bank and sometimes they will even have free red envelopes for you to take. Some people love the $2 bill but I find it more convenient to stick to the more common bills. Always make sure that you have some red envelopes ready during this time in case a child wishes you good fortune {it would be embarrassing and bad luck says my mom}.
  4. All of the children, whether you speak the language or not, are expected to wish their elders happy new year in their native tongue.  It could be short and sweet or long versed::  Gung Hay Fat Choy {Chinese} or Chuc Mung Nam Moi {Vietnamese}. Well, my kids do really try.  Instead of going for the typical well wish they like to add the word prosperous into it :: Chuc Mung Nam Moi Phat Tai.  It starts off sounding like “Chuck…{totally incorrect pronunciation of it followed by indecipherable mumble}…Fat Thighs!”  {You should’ve taught them Vietnamese, scolds my mom.}
  5. Scope out the lion and dragon dances happening around town.  If you have small children be aware of the ear piercing firecrackers, loud drums and thick smoke.  The sound of the firecrackers are believed to ward off evil spirits.  As a kid, I remember tying a towel to my mom’s round laundry basket and taking turns with my siblings pretending to have our own dragon dance at home. Wouldn’t it be extra fun to have bubblewrap on the floor to stomp on for the popping sound?  This could be hours of fun for the littles. {However, I can’t help but hear my mom’s voice in my head yelling “Don’t let them jump on the furniture!  They’ll fall and break their head!“}  
  6. Finally, everyone has to be on their BEST behavior and happy for the start of the new year. My mom always believed that I was her lucky child because I was always joyful.  So every year at the crack of dawn she would wake me up and make me leave through the side door and come through the front door of the house. That way I could be the first person to enter her home and bring her luck all year. I haven’t done this in a long time and may have to start this tradition with my children since we have a golden pig amongst us. My mom’s advice to make sure that the kids are on their best behavior is to bribe them with a generous red envelope for the most well behaved child that day. {Works like a charm every year.}   

We may celebrate the Lunar New Year with our family in different ways, but one thing is common all across the different cultures :: it’s a time to be with family and to remember our ancestors. Below are some Lunar New Year festivities happening around town.  I hope that you get a chance to take your kids to see a lion dance and celebrate the start of spring.  I wish you all a very wonderful new year!

Lunar New Year:: Traditions and Festivities | Houston Moms BlogCheck out ::

  1. Children’s Museum of Houston :: From Jan. 31 thru Feb. 6 they will have a range of Lunar New Year activities going on throughout the week.  Check their website for more details.
  2. Chinese Community Center:: They’re hosting a free festival on Saturday, Feb. 9 from 10a.m. to 4p.m.
  3. Viet Hoa Center :: Located in Chinatown they will have many lion and dragon dances throughout the weekend of Feb. 9 & 10 from 10a.m. to 6p.m.
  4. River Oaks District :: The shopping center will host a celebration on Feb. 2 from 10a.m to 1:30p.m. come view their picturesque lantern display and watch a lion dance. 
  5. Katy Asian Town :: They have two lion dance shows scheduled for Feb. 9 at 1:30p.m. and Feb. 10 at 11:30a.m.
  6. LaCenterra Cinco Ranch :: Come see a lion dance show on Friday, Feb. 8 at 7p.m.

 


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