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How do different countries celebrate Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is essentially a time for family and friends to come together, however, each country that celebrates the annual festival does so in their own unique way. Find out how...

Vietnamese New Year

Vietnamese New Year, also known as Tet, is one of the most sacred festivals for Vietnamese people. Guided by the lunar calendar, Tet is usually celebrated between late January or early February.

Tet is ultimately a time for meeting and catching up with family while also paying respect to ancestors that came before. The hopes for good fortune and new beginnings in the coming year is symbolised by its foods Mam Ngu Qua (five-fruit tray), flowers and plants, (flowering peach trees), which can be found in peoples' houses, markets and shops.

Celebrations generally last for 3 days but can continue for a week, where people drink and eat mut, (candied fruits), banh chung, (a square cake made of sticky rice stuffed with beans and pork), and mang (a soup of boiled bamboo shoots and pork.)

“Chuc Mung Nam Moi”

Photo credit: Flickr / Andrea Nguyen, Flickr / IQ Remix, Flickr / Sam Sherratt, Flickr / Maxime Guilbot

Korean New Year

Lunar New Year in Korea is known as Seollal. Seollal is a time for paying respect to ancestors and to meet up with family and old friends. It is also a time to embrace Korean cultural and culinary traditions. It is not uncommon to see people dressed in a Hanbok (traditional clothes), performing ancestral rites, playing traditional games and listening to old folk stories.

Tteokguk (rice cake soup), Galbi Jjim (braised short ribs) and Jeon (Korean pancakes) are some of the delicious foods you will see during Seollal.

Photo credit: Flickr / Republic of Korea 

Chinese New Year

Lunar New Year in China is the most significant time for Chinese people to pay respect to their ancestors and spend time with family and friends. The New Year’s Eve dinner at home is seen as the most important meal of the year.

Millions of people manage to get home before the dinner, which causes extremely high traffic load across the nation; the so-called largest annual human migration in the world. Food plays an essential role to connect people and to relax and reward them for a year of hard work.

Red pockets containing a monetary gift are always exchanged and the new trend is to give away red pocket via a digital platform like WeChat. The 15th day of the lunar month marks the official end of the traditional new year celebration.

Photo credit: SBS / Chinese New Year parade, Flickr / IQ Remix

What is Chinese New Year all about? Well, it's the most important holiday for about 1 fifth of the world's population. So how did it all begin? 

Cambodian New Year

In Cambodia, Lunar New Year (known as Chinese New Year) is not a public holiday, but many Cambodians especially those with Chinese heritage like to celebrate it too.

Similar to Lunar New Year in China, on the New Year’s Eve people cook a lot of traditional Chinese foods to pray to ancestors, followed by a big family dinner.

On New Year's Day, people also give away red pockets to friends and relatives that come to visit. Some families also hire the lion dancers to perform at their business places to welcome the New Year.

Photo credit: Epa Mak Remissa / AP Photo: Heng Sinith

Filipino New Year

Chinese New Year used to be celebrated only by Chinese Filipinos, but nowadays among the general population, there is a growing practice of giving moon cakes and New Year’s rice cake (tikoy). On New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks in Chinatowns across the country and dragon dances in the malls are becoming more common. 

Photo credit: Flickr / Jojo Nicdao 

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