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More About Lunar New Year

January 22, 2014

Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year, is quite possibly the most important holiday in many parts of Asia.  Traditionally, the holiday consists of 15 days of celebration and observance, running from the Lunar New Year's Eve until the last day of the lunar month.  The exact dates for the Lunar New Year celebration vary each year (typically falling between January 21st & February 20th) since the calendar is based on lunar and solar cycles, not the Western calendar.  In 2014, Lunar New Year falls on Friday, January 31st. 

Lunar New Year is a time for gathering with friends and family and for sharing traditional foods that represent health, wealth and happiness.  Foods such as chicken and fish, noodles, bamboo shoots and others are served to celebrate the New Year.  Uwajimaya also celebrates the Lunar New Year with special in-store events such as Lion Dances, our Lunar New Year Sale and Lucky Red envelope promotion (January 22-February 4, 2014), and the celebration of many traditional New Year Food items.

A fun and interesting part of the Chinese calendar is the celebration of the 12 zodiac animals with one animal being honored each year.  2014 is the Year of the Horse.  The zodiac animals are: Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Boar, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon and Snake.  It is said that people born in the year honoring a particular animal will be blessed with some of the characteristics of that animal.  See what your zodiac year says about you:

Some Traditional New Year's Customs:

  • BEFORE NEW YEAR'S DAY: Homes should be cleaned before New Years Day and all cleaning equipment put away to avoid sweeping away good fortune.  All debts must also be repaid before the New Year.  Homes should be decorated with plants, flowers, and red paper inscribed with happy wishes for the New Year.
  • NEW YEARS EVE: A time for friends and family, and for sharing with an abundance of traditional foods to usher in the New Year.  It is also the time to celebrate and enjoy the Lion or Dragon troupe and fireworks to ring in the New Year and to scare away bad spirits.
  • NEW YEARS DAY: It is a time to give red envelopes filled with lucky money to children and unmarried friends and relatives.  Uwajimaya also gives out Red Envelopes to celebrate the New Year.  Click here for more information

Some Traditional New Year's Foods and Their Significance:

  • CHICKEN AND FISH: Served whole for prosperity and family togetherness
  • NOODLES: Served uncut for long life
  • GINGKO NUT: Wealth
  • DRIED BEAN CURD: Happiness and wealth
  • BAMBOO SHOOTS: Wishing everything will be well
  • LETTUCE: Wealth
  • MANDARIN ORANGES & TANGERINES: Abundance, happiness and good luck
  • CANDY TRAY: Starting the New Year sweetly. Trays are a circle or octagon shape with eight varieties of dried sweet fruit.
  • CANDIED MELON: Growth and good health
  • LYCHEE NUT: Strong family relationships
  • RED MELON SEEDS: (dyed red) Joy, happiness, truth and sincerity
  • KUMQUAT: Prosperity
  • COCONUT: Togetherness
  • PEANUTS: Long life
  • LOTUS SEEDS: Many children
  • POMELO: Abundance, prosperity, having children

Popular Chinese New Year's Sayings:

  • Cantonese: Gung Hay Fat Choy which means “Wishing You Prosperity” and Sun Nien Fai Lok which means “Happy New Year”
  • Mandarin: Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái which means "Wishing You Prosperity” and Xīn Nián Kuài Lè which means “Happy New Year”