Interesting Tradition During Lunar New Year
If you have read my previous posts, you know that I appreciate traditional and cultural values. As an Asian American in the Lunar New Year week whose focus has always been on houses, real estate, and interior design, I feel obliged to write about the Asian tradition that relating to houses.
Americans celebrate their new year much differently from Asians. Whereas Americans celebrate just one day, Asians, and specifically Vietnamese, celebrate their new year for 7 to 10 days. All businesses close during the first week of Lunar New Year, and during this week there are beautiful decorations in each house and public place. There is so much food and deserts in homes, which are specifically for this special holiday, specific traditional gowns that many women wear, and most importantly, customs that everyone respects. Here are a few that relate to houses:
First person enters your house
People avoid visiting anyone’s house on the first day of Lunar New Year unless they are invited. Vietnamese people strongly believe that the “vibe” of the first person enters the house will influence how well their families do the rest of the year. In most cases, the home owners will invite that chosen person to come to their home early on the first of the year or even on New Year Eve to ensure that no uninvited person enters their house first. They will base that on the chosen person’s year of birth, their success in life, their success in marriage, and the success that the family hopes for in that New Year. Remember, if you happen to come to an Asian family’s house on first day of Lunar Year Calendar, be sure that it is okay with them first.
No clean, sweeping, vacuuming on First day of the Lunar year
People clean their houses and hang decorations up to New Year Eve. Once the New Year starts, especially on the first day, nobody cleans, sweeps or vacuums their house. They believe doing so pushes away their luck, good vibes, or fortune. Some families practice this on just first day; some do for entire first week.
No garbage disposal on 1st day of Lunar year
This tradition has been explained by a myth. It says that long ago there was an entrepreneur who was gifted with a female servant. Ever since he had her in his house, his business grew and became very successful. On a first day of Lunar Year, she made a mistake and was beaten terribly by this entrepreneur. She hid in the garbage (no explanation of why she picked that spot). That entrepreneur didn’t know and got rid of his garbage on the same day. Since then he continuously lost in business to the point he was empty handed. Asians never got rid of their garbage on the first day of the year ever again. They will keep their garbage as long as they can in that first week. Remember, don’t offer to take someone garbage way when you are in an Asian family during that week.
No giving fire, water, and money away in the beginning of the year.
Water is usually a symbol of money and Fire is symbol of warmth, energy, and luck in Asian cultures. Giving fire and water away in beginning of the year equivalent to giving luck and fortune away the rest of the year. It is strictly avoided by Vietnamese as well as other Asians.
You may have heard of lucky money in red envelopes. The money is the symbol of luck and wisdom that older people voluntarily wish to share to younger people in their circles. With that said, Asians avoid loaning money in the beginning of the year. By doing that, they believe they’re giving away their fortune the rest of the year. Remember, you mostly like to fail in borrowing money from Asians, especially early in Lunar New Year.
Broken things are signs of family separation
In everyday life, mistakes happen; we break dishes, glasses, and furniture, amongst other things. However, if this happens in the first few days of the New Year, it has a much more meaning to Asian families. Broken things in the house are sign of family separation. So be extra careful if you happen to be in an Asian household during this important period. You can really devastate a group of people just by breaking a plate.
Black and white are colors of death
Colors have different meaning in different cultures. In Asian cultures, black and white are colors of death. People often choose colorful and vibrant clothing for Lunar New Year holiday. Remember: Don’t wear black and white if you go to an Asian family’s home during this time, you may get dirty look from everyone.
At this point, you’re probably thinking to yourself you don’t want to be around Asians during Lunar New Year holiday because of these “do and not to do” lists. It is quite complicated; I found myself walking on eggshells with my mom when I was younger since I wasn’t sure what was the right thing to do or not to do. However, it could boil down to simple thing as holidays in most cultures are happy time, celebration time, vibrant colors and flowers time. Yes, it could be a bit sensitive and foreign to you, but if you can be respectful of the customs and blend in, you will find a group of extra happy people who are so friendly, kind, eager to share and easy do business with. You will find yourself surrounded with delicious foods, drinks, and snacks, and even more so, you will yourself immersed in such beautiful culture with so much respect and love.
The point I am about to make has nothing to do with houses, but it touches many Asian’s pride. Most Americans address Lunar New Year as “Chinese New Year”. If you try to impress or be respectful/ considerate/ polite to non-Chinese Asians, please don’t do that! Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Thailand and all other Asian countries have their own cultures and customs for this holiday. They are all proud of their unique and beautiful cultures. By using the term “Chinese New Year” to the other Asian without know where they are originally from, in the best case you sound ignorant; in the worst case you sound rude and disrespectful them. To be on the safe side, stick with “Lunar New Year”. You want to impress a Vietnamese? Call it “Tet”