5 ways to have a happy Lunar New Year
Ethan Song’s guide to the Lunar New Year
Words— Frank And Oak staff
As million’s around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year today, we asked our co-founder Ethan Song for some tips on how to have a great Year of the Dog (even if you generally stick to the Gregorian calendar).
Have a Big Meal
“One of the most important parts of the Lunar New Year is getting together with family. My family was never cooking a turkey or anything at Christmas or Thanksgiving but we were all about dumplings on New Years. They’re said to represent wealth and prosperity. I’m not sure everyone does it, but in my family, we would hide sweet ingredients in random dumplings as sugar means you’re going to have a sweet life. Everything is about luck. I always tell people to try and book a table at their local Chinese restaurant and go all out–even if they don’t really observe Chinese New Year. It’s a great excuse to get together and reconnect with friends and family. If you didn’t do as much of this as you should have over the Christmas holidays, you can do it now!”
Red Envelope or Not, Take Care of Those Younger Than You
“The red envelope tradition is really for kids. The adults fill them with money and you’ll generally even get them up until you have kids yourself. It’s kind of like going to a wedding. There’s sort of an unspoken minimum. The idea is to pass money on to those who need it the most. It’s sort of about teaching kids to save money. So, it was generally the money that you spend for the whole year. Instead of buying something you don’t need yourself, you’re given money to save or to buy something you truly need. It's a little less romantic than picking a gift, but it’s practical. So I’d say, even if you aren’t into the red packets, it’s a good reminder to take care of the younger ones in your life in your own way."
Bring Good Luck
"Another Lunar New Year tradition is to bring gifts to your friends. Usually these gifts are food and the food is usually oranges as they’re said to bring good luck. Kumquats and leeks are also said to encourage wealth and luck. Your friends would probably appreciate oranges more than leeks though."
Start with a Bang
"Fireworks on Chinese New Year are like the fourth of July times 100. They’re for entertaining the kids, but they were originally to fend off evil spirits and bad luck. So if you decide to shoot off some fireworks tonight, think of it as expunging the bad things in your life so you can go into the new year fresh."
Clean Your Apartment
“Again, most of the holiday is about flushing out evil spirits. I’m not as good at it as I should be but one of the big traditions is to make sure that on you’ve given your apartment a good scrub and put away old things. You’re also suppose to open your windows and doors (although I wouldn't advice you do that in a place like Montreal). The idea is to wash away any bad luck. You’re also supposed to buy new clothes as you go into the new year so…just saying! [laughs]."
If you enjoyed our sit down with Ethan, check out some of our other interviews.