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Lunar New Year traditions evolve in the Asian diaspora

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Lunar New Year traditions evolve

Jan. 1 is an opportunity to start fresh for many people worldwide. They make resolutions to eat better, become healthier or take control of finances. Unfortunately, many people also abandon their resolutions by February. Luckily, it's around this time that I get a second chance to reflect on my year and set the tone for a new one.

This year, Feb. 10 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year. It's one of the most important festivals in many Asian countries, including Vietnam, China, Korea as well as the Asian diaspora. The holiday prompts what is considered one of the world's largest annual human migrations as hundreds of millions of people travel back to their familial hometowns for the celebrations, which last up to two weeks. Certain foods are eaten only at this time of year. Often traditional costumes are worn. Celebrants gather to see parades and perform various rites and rituals with elders in order to guarantee a lucky year ahead.

Here in the U.S., I only get to celebrate each Lunar New Year — or Tet, in Vietnamese — for one day each year, as it's not a federally recognized holiday. Nevertheless, my parents made sure we spent our time wisely. We would all take the day off and put on our traditional ao dai to go visit my grandparents. They'd give us red envelopes, called li xi, filled with "lucky" money — but only after we give well wishes to our elders.

 


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