Blog / January 16th, 2024
Happy Lunar New Year and 恭喜發財 (Kung Hei Fatt Choy) from us at Girlguiding Anglia!
I’m so excited to share my first Lunar New Year blog as a member of Girlguiding Anglia! Hi, I’m Lauren, I grew up in Singapore and celebrated the Lunar New Year every year with my family and friends. Since moving to the UK, I’ve kept up my celebrations and traditions and have included my favourite ones in this blog. I’ve also written an accompanying activity sheet that can be used at unit meetings, at home or at the workplace. I hope you enjoy reading about the celebrations and I can’t wait to usher in the new year with you all.
Lunar New Year marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar and occurs on a different day each year. The cycle is 12 years long and is marked by 12 zodiac animals, one for each year. This year celebrates the year of the dragon, bringing good luck and prosperity to those born in 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2014 and children born this year. The first day of Lunar New Year is 10 February. The new year is celebrated throughout east Asia and by many who live abroad. Celebrations occur over a 15-day period and traditions vary from country to country but there are a few that are not to be missed.
Many new year superstitions and traditions centre around the imminent arrival of the luck god and the rival evil spirit Nian. Families will gather on the eve of the new year for a reunion dinner and will engage in the following auspicious activities:
- Wearing bright colours, mostly red, pink, and orange to scare off Nian and attract luck and good fortune.
- Eating traditional dishes that include noodles to symbolise long and healthy life, fish to symbolise happiness and oranges to symbolise prosperity.
- Using sparklers, fireworks, and rattles to scare Nian away from their houses.
- Exchanging red packets or hong bao, older relatives will usually give children and single adults these auspicious blessings in denominations of 2, 8 and 10 – never give someone a sum containing the number 4! It is a sign of bad luck and misfortune.
Some of my other favourite traditions are eating a sticky caramel rice cake called Nian Gao, thought to have been created to be so delicious and glutinous that it would glue Nian’s mouth shut, rendering it unable to consume any more good fortune. Additionally, throughout the 15-day celebratory period, families don’t clean their houses or throw any rubbish away, to not accidentally get rid of the wealth and blessings showered on their homes during the Lunar New Year. Instead, families will clean meticulously before the first day, making sure to throw out anything unlucky. Many companies will invite lion or dragon dancers into their offices where the performers skilfully navigate the desks and paperwork, to usher in a prosperous year of business. These performances are usually accompanied by loud percussive music and chanting auspicious phrases in mandarin. I find that my new years have been lots quieter here than at home!
I hope this blog has been a helpful introduction to the Lunar New Year and I can’t wait to see how you and your girls take part in the festivities. It is so wonderful to see everyone celebrate a holiday from another culture and I’m excited for the many festivals and traditional holidays that Girlguiding now recognises and celebrates. Celebrating our differences and uplifting girls in minority ethnic groups is more important now than ever. Personally, I can’t wait to have my friends round and cook a delicious meal for all of us to enjoy!
Share your experiences, celebrate with us on social media and don’t forget have fun!
新年快樂 (Xin Nian Kuai Le) and happy celebrating!