Culture and Diversity @MBB
Feb 12 , 2024
Celebrating the Lunar New Year and hearing how some of our team acknowledge this important calendar date.
Lunar New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) is the beginning of the lunar calendar year, and while traditionally celebrated in many Southeast Asian countries including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia, Thailand and Singapore, some 2 Billion people globally celebrate this occasion. Australia hosts some of the biggest celebrations outside of Asia.
This year, Lunar New Year falls on the 10th of February based on the lunar calendar, and marks the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon. It is marked as a time for family reunions, feasting, gift giving and honouring ancestors. Many traditions and customs around this festival are designed to bring luck, prosperity, and joy for the coming year.
Some interesting customs in how it is celebrated include:
The Mongolian lunar new year, Tsagaan sar is celebrated at the junction of winter and spring. People gather with their families at home and show respect to each other through a variety of rituals including greeting by supporting the elders’ elbows in their hands. Traditional food and drinks for the celebration include rice with curds (tsagaa), milk tea, fermented mare’s milk (airag), and dumplings filled with beef, mutton, onions and salt (buuz).
On Lunar New Year eve, my extended family and I have dinner (Sino-Mauritian food). The next morning, we all reconvene for breakfast, and after lighting fire crackers, we go Pagoda-hopping to pay respect to our ancestors. We have dinner together again (our main way of celebrating is by eating a lot), and a typical dish we have adopted from Singapore is Yusheng – a raw fish salad designed to bring prosperity and abundance. We have dinner again after 15 days to mark the end of the celebration.
Lunar New Year is a time when families far and wide gather at my Grandparent’s old house in Taipeng, Malaysia (one of the oldest towns in Malaysia). Imagine 50+ family members crammed into an old home with only 6 bedrooms and a big courtyard, celebrating with good food, drinks and fireworks. Simply hectic.
In Vietnam, during Lunar New Year, or Tet Nguyen Dan, families gather to enjoy traditional delicacies, such as Banh Trung and Thit Kho Tau, share prayers with ancestors, and catch up after a busy year. Homes light up with blooming peach and kumquat trees, symbolising prosperity and good luck, while streets burst with colourful decorations and lively dragon and lion dances.