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The Spartan Scroll

Lunar New Year

Lunar+New+Year
Lena Choi

Lunar New Year is a holiday whose dates change slightly every year, since it goes by the Lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated by many Asian countries, some of which include Vietnam, some parts of China, South Korea, and more. The traditions for Lunar New Year differ for every country.
South Korea’s Lunar New Year traditions include dressing in hanbok, which is Korea’s traditional clothing (한복), and doing saebae (새배), which is the act of bowing to the elders of the family and wishing them a happy year, saying, “새해 복 많이 받으세요” (pronounced “saehae bok mani badeuseyo” in plain English). Afterwards, elders wish the children a Happy New Year too, then give them money, whether that’s in dollars or won (Korean currency). Some foods that are eaten in Korean Lunar New Year are duk-guk (떡국) (most traditional food. Rice cake soup), bulgogi (불고기), mandu (dumplings; 만두), and other Korean dishes.
After the food, family members gather around to play yutnori (윷놀이), which is a traditional board game. Four sticks with engravings (called yut) play the role of dice. Each playing token gets to move one space for every stick with the plain side up when tossed lightly. If all four land with the plain side up, then that player gets to move four spaces, plus another turn. If all four land with the engraved side up, then that player gets to move five spaces, plus another turn. If the opponent’s tokens claim the space that you are on, then you have to go back to the start and start over. The goal of the game is to get all four playing tokens to pass the start.
China’s Lunar New Year traditions differ from South Korea’s. “Happy New Year” in Chinese is 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè). Firstly, many people clean out their houses in preparation for Lunar New Year, and also try to pay off their debts to start the year fresh. (The purpose of cleaning out houses is to drive out bad spirits and bad luck from the previous year.) People also sometimes buy new clothes, and hang up spring festival couplets and red lanterns. (lines of poetry on red material) at the front of their houses, which indicates good wishes.
Then, the whole family gathers together to enjoy a big family meal, filled with delicious and symbolic dishes, such as fish, dumplings, and spring rolls, to name a few. In Lunar New Year, red envelopes (hong bao) filled with money are given out to relatives, friends, and acquaintances, which symbolizes good luck. Fireworks are also a tradition. They are defined as explosions to scare off bad spirits and evil monsters. On the last day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the famous Lantern Festival takes place. Red lanterns are obviously involved, along with traditional lantern riddles, dragon dances, and eating sticky rice.
Vietnam’s Lunar New Year traditions are also very unique. It is known as Tết. They say “Happy New Year” by saying “CHÚC MỪNG NĂM MỚI.” Bánh Chưng, or Bánh Tét is the most traditional food eaten during Tết. Other foods include boiled chicken, Vietnamese ham, fried rolls, and candied fruits.
There is also a religious tradition of releasing three carps into a body of water (typically a lake), for the Gods Ông Công Ông Táo (per family) to use as transportation to the King of Heaven. There, they would inform the King of Heaven about the family’s rights and wrongs. Overall, Tết, and any other Lunar New Year, is a time for family and friends to gather together once again to exchange gifts, and just be together.

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About the Contributor
Lena Choi, Copy Editor
Lena Choi is an ambitious student who is always ready to learn and take on new challenges. She looks forward to working with her peers to make the school newspaper more fruitful. She grew up in La Crescenta where her parents, especially her dad, encouraged her to work hard in school so that she could get good grades and be accepted by a good university when the time comes. She was one of ten people to receive the President's Award for Educational Excellence at Valley View Elementary School. In her free time, she loves listening to music, looking at her phone, and reading. She has been living in California all her life and genuinely wants to go to South Korea to see her relatives.  
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