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Wishing You Good Fortune
MEMORIES OF THE LUNAR NEW YEAR
Happy New Year!
The Lunar New Year is also full of traditions, though Asian traditions often include a few superstitions. For example, on the eve of the new year, everyone leaves the house. At midnight, the first person to re-enter the home should be someone who enjoyed the most good fortune during the previous year. This is symbolic and meant to represent the invitation of good fortune into your home. One tradition I’ve always really enjoyed involves the exchange of wealth and good fortune. Adults give younger kids small red envelopes with money inside. In return, the child wishes the older person — usually their parent or grandparent — health, happiness, and good fortune in the coming year. This is a tradition my family practiced when I was growing up. My parents wanted to keep it as traditional as possible: My siblings and I couldn’t have our envelope until we wished them good fortune in Vietnamese. Keep in mind that, while my parents came to the United States from Vietnam, my siblings and I were all born in America. We grew up speaking English at school and with each other, so my Vietnamese wasn’t the best. One year, I tried to wish my parents great health, but it came out wrong: I told them to stay fat and happy. My parents burst out laughing. My sister teases me about it to this day, but over time my embarrassment has become a fond memory. The Lunar New Year is all about starting the new year off on the right foot by spending time with friends and family, sharing big meals together, and bringing happiness and warmth into our lives. I love all these traditions, and each year I look forward to sharing them with Connor. It’s important to remember our heritage as we look toward the future. Knowing where we come from helps us chart a course to where we want to go.
Don’t worry, your newsletter isn’t arriving a month late. My family is Vietnamese, so every year we celebrate the new year twice — once on Jan. 1 with the Gregorian calendar, then again a few weeks later with the start of the Lunar New Year. Most people in the U.S. might be more familiar with the Lunar New Year as the Chinese New Year, but many East Asian countries observe the lunisolar calendar, celebrating the start of the new year in late January or early February. This year, the Lunar New Year starts on Feb. 5 as we begin the Year of the Pig. In Vietnam, this celebration is called Tet Nguyên Dán, or Tet Holiday.
Holidays as a whole tend to be full of traditions. For example, on New Year’s Eve, I like the tradition of sharing a kiss with my wife at midnight.
“The Lunar New Year is also full of traditions, though Asian traditions often include a few superstitions.”
I wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year! May the Year of the Pig bring you health, happiness, and good fortune.
–Dr. Bao Tha i
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