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Asians Celebrate Lunar New Year Around the World

2019-2-4

The traditional dragon and lion dances greeted several hundred Asian-Americans over the weekend at Fair Oaks Shopping Center in northern Virginia.

They had gathered to ring in the Year of the Pig.

Hank Chao is a Chinese-American and with the Hai Hau Community Center in Falls Church, Virginia. He said, “We used to call it the Chinese New Year. But we have a lot of Southeast Asians, like Korean, Japanese, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia. Those people came to us and said, ‘Hey, we celebrate, too.’"

Members of the community center have gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year for the past 16 years. The holiday begins on the first new moon of the lunar calendar. Because the holiday is based on the moon, it falls somewhere between the end of January and the end of February. This year’s holiday is on February 5. It marks the year 4717 of the lunar calendar.

Chao said each year, people from many countries celebrate the Lunar New Year in northern Virginia. Some years, the celebration even includes Middle Eastern and Irish dances in addition to more traditional performances.

Members of Cambodia's Chinese community perform a traditional lion dance during the lunar new year Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in front of Royal Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Members of Cambodia's Chinese community perform a traditional lion dance during the lunar new year Monday, Feb. 4, 2019, in front of Royal Palace, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)

Many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year. It is called Chunjie in China, Tet in Vietnam, Seollal in Korea and Losar in Tibet.

For many years, the holiday was not celebrated in North Korea. But in 1989, the Korea Times reports, then-leader Kim Jong-il brought back the holiday tradition.

In South Korea, family members play a popular game called yutnori. And they share traditional foods like tteokguk, a soup made of beef, vegetables, egg and rice cakes.

In Tibet, the first day of Losar acts as a sort of communal birthday. Everyone becomes one year older. And, at the end of the three-day celebration, Tibetans throw roasted barley flour, known as tsampa, to wish each other health and happiness.

It might be the Year of the Pig, but many in Hong Kong are not eating pork this year because of concerns over the African swine fever.

A woman named Liu told the South China Morning Post, “It does not really matter, Lunar New Year is more about live chickens anyway, pork is just the side dish and it will not affect our mood to celebrate.”

In Vietnam, thousands filled Nguyen Hue Street in the southern city of Ho Chi Minh to watch a fireworks show on Monday. In Hanoi, the party chief and President Nguyen Phu Trong was seen handing out red envelopes to workers. The envelopes are filled with lucky money.

Many Vietnamese celebrate Tet with a traditional food called banh chung, a square-shape cake of sticky rice filled with meat and beans, and then wrapped in green leaves.

I’m Ashley Thompson.

Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor. Dorothy Gundy produced the video.

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Words in This Story

greet - v. to meet someone who has just arrived with friendly words and actions

roast - v. to cook (food such as chicken, potatoes, or beef) with dry heat in an oven or over a fire

envelope - n. an enclosing cover for a letter, card, etc.