Lilly Alexandra shares with us how her family celebrates the Lunar New Year and how traditions have lasted as well as changed over time.
"Traditionally, the Lunar New Year was the most important celebration for my mom’s family. I grew up listening to stories about the 2-week long celebration and its many strange and wonderful customs."
It’s a time for the whole family and good friends to come together, visit the graves of loved ones who have passed on, feast on delicious food, give children lots of red envelopes filled with “lucky money”, reflect on the year that’s just passed, leave behind everything bad and set ourselves up for hopefully a successful new year.
These days, however, the Lunar New Year has also become a source of great pain and sadness to my mom and many others within the Asian diaspora community. For my mother, it’s a lamentation of lost cultures and identity, a yearly reminder of what she had to give up and leave behind so my siblings and I could have a better life in New Zealand.
Over the years, our celebration of the Lunar New Year has always been rather intermittent and greatly dependent on how mom feels around that time of the year. If she feels up to it, we would have a big celebration with family and friends. Some years, we have a smaller feast with just us and my aunt’s family. Sometimes it would be just another day for us with only a small family dinner.
When we do celebrate it though, it’s usually a joyous and happy occasion, an opportunity for everyone to indulge and overeat on all our favourite food, for children to squabble over who gets the most “lucky money” in their red envelopes, and for uncles to over drink and fall asleep snoring on the couch!
Written by Lilly Alexandra