Lunar New Year, commonly referred to as Chinese New Year, is celebrated across East Asian countries between 21 January and 20 February each year. Lunar New Year 2019 falls on Tuesday 5th February, and this year's two-week celebration welcomes in the year of the pig. Let us share how to prepare for one of the biggest celebrations on earth! If you’re looking for fun facts and great phrases about Chinese New Year, in particular, check out our beginner’s guide to Chinese New Year!
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Lunar New Year is celebrated all over East Asia, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam. Although Lunar New Year activities and traditions differ slightly across these countries, for everyone, this celebration marks the beginning of a new year according to the traditional lunar calendar.
Firstly, preparations for Lunar New Year begin well in advance. The new year is a time for a fresh start, so before decorating, you need to clean the house and throw away any unwanted items. Once that’s sorted, you can start dressing the house in all sorts of traditional decorations. Across East Asia, houses are decorated with red lanterns, made from either silk or paper and covered in good luck phrases and characters.
The color red is everywhere during Lunar New Year as it’s a lucky color and symbolizes good fortune and happiness. A red diamond-shaped piece of paper with the character fú 福 (meaning luck) in the middle is another traditional decoration. You always place the fú upside down so that the luck pours out into the home. In addition, red couplets outlining wishes for the new year in Chinese gold characters accompany the fú decoration on doorways.
Fresh flowers and plants brighten up the home and bring good fortune. Popular choices include narcissus, as they’re an early blooming spring flower with a beautiful fragrance; peonies, the flower of richness and honor to encourage a prosperous new year; and pussy willows, as their blooming buds symbolize growth and the coming of spring.
For Vietnamese Lunar New Year, also known as Tet, the five-fruit tray takes center stage. It’s essentially a big bowl stacked high with colorful fruits, including oranges, bananas, mangos, pomelos, apples and often watermelon. The five-fruit tray is an offering to one’s ancestors, showing them gratitude and admiration. Most importantly, it brings color to the home and welcomes prosperity and happiness for the coming year.
If you take a trip to Korea over Lunar New Year you will see illustrations of Korean magpies, cranes and the sun gracing traditional decorations. These three things have special meanings in Korean Lunar New Year culture. The sun symbolizes the morning and a new beginning, the crane represents long life and the Korean magpie is a symbol of good fortune.
In preparation for Lunar New Year, we decorated Tandem HQ! Take a look at the video we created especially for you guys for a glimpse of some traditional Lunar New Year decorations! 😄
Are you learning Chinese, Korean or Vietnamese on Tandem? Why not wish your Tandem partner happy new year in their own language? We’ll give you a head start with some common Lunar New Year greetings! 😉
“Happy New Year” 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè)
“Happy New Year” 새해복많이받으세요! (saehaebogmanh-ibad-euseyo !)
“Happy New Year” Chúc mừng năm mới
So, that concludes our guide through the some traditional Lunar New Year preparations and decorations in China, Korea, and Vietnam! Are you feeling inspired to deck out your home with some beautiful red lanterns or fragrant spring flowers? We know we are!
Why not download the Tandem app to find yourself a language exchange partner who can teach you about their culture and traditions!