Chúc mừng năm mới, friends! And in case you didn’t know, I just wished you a Happy (Lunar) New Year! Today, many Asian cultures are celebrating 2019, the Year of the Pig.
The Lunar New Year isn’t just celebrated by the Chinese. Vietnam, Korea, Laos, Singapore and many other Asian countries also celebrate Lunar New Year.
And since I’m Vietnamese and part Chinese (and French), I thought I’d give you a small snippet of what today’s celebrations are all about!
I’ll be sharing what I’ve experienced since I was young so I hope you enjoy today’s fun post!
Most homes are decorated in red lanterns, paper cutouts and Kumquat trees.
Small red envelopes known as Li Xi (more on this in a bit) hang as decor off the branches. However, in my home, we didn’t have Kumquat trees.
We’d go out and gather long branches and tie pink and yellow silk peach/apricot flowers to them and put them in pots to spruce up our home.
Along with peach and apricot flowers, my parents favored yellow chrysanthemums and red gladiolas.
Growing up, our kitchen and dining table was full of food. Traditionally, we had banh chung (steamed square cakes), xoi (sticky rice), mut (candied fruits), bánh tét (think sticky rice burrito with pork or bean filling) and various fruits to name a few things.
Whatever my brother and I requested, my parents would get it for us to eat. They loved cooking. Instead of getting to watch cartoons when I was growing up, I learned a ton in the kitchen instead. I hated it back then, but I can appreciate my cooking knowledge today.
Aside, from phở, for the new year, bánh xèo, bánh bèo, bánh cuốn and bánh mì are among my favorite dishes. Heck, all things bánh-related are my favorite, haha!
Our amazing cuisine is also why I don’t eat as much Vietnamese food as I used to. I’d never stop eating, haha!
Growing up, going to temple with family was not only our tradition, but our religion. We’d go and pay our respects. Additionally, my parents would often times meet with monks for guidance.
Before his passing, my dad converted to Catholicism, my brother is now agnostic, my mom is still a Buddhist, but she’s not practicing and I’ve converted to Christianity.
In other traditions, Li xi (said like “lee see”), which consists of money in small red envelopes, is considered lucky money. I always looked forward to receiving these little envelopes when I was young.
Everyone has a different story when it comes to li xi. In our home, Li Xi (which consists of money in small red envelopes) is always gifted. My parents and parents’ friends wanted their children to have some sort of finances to start off the year successfully. Amounts can range from $1-$100 and you can receive li xi when at a temple you attend or other strangers you meet who want to gift you with lucky money.
One of my favorite thing traditions is watching lion/dragon dances. Dancers of all ages dress as a lion to move to very loud drum and cymbal music. People feed the lions money as they pass by to bring good luck and fortune.
When we were little, my mom bought my younger brother a lion head when we went to Vietnam to visit family. If you ever get a chance to attend Lunar New Year festivities in the future, trust me, lion dances might be your favorite part too!
In the Vietnamese culture, áo dài (which is a long tunic with trousers) was my favorite thing to wear.
Red represents luck, happiness and joy.
In the Chinese culture, red is believed to be the color that can ward off evil spirits.
In my family, my mom forbids me to wear red as it’s not one of my lucky colors.
However, in the past, I had so much red in my closet. I’m not kidding. I probably had enough red clothes to be able to wear something every day for a month.
So obviously, I decided to rebel, haha! I wore this outfit on Sunday so it doesn’t count for the new year. At least that’s my logic.
Is that cheating?
My mom doesn’t know what a blog is so let’s assume she doesn’t know I have one, haha!
But for today, I wore a pink shirt, navy pants and neutral flats so how’s that for not wearing, red, black or white, mom?!
Next year, I hope to share with you more traditional Lunar New Year outfits of my own along with more behind the scenes of all the celebrations!
It is believed that the Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Chinese. However, I’ve grown up knowing it as Vietnamese New Year (also known as Tết) and it reminds some of the best times of my life because it’s all about prosperity, happy and great health for the new year.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, please let me know and I’ll be sure to create more content next year!