Fireworks, feasts, and red envelopes filled with cash for children have marked the celebration of the Lunar New Year in various Asian countries and overseas communities.
The Lunar New Year Tradition
The Lunar New Year celebrations begin with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and continue for 15 days until the first full moon. As it is based on the cycles of the moon, the dates of this holiday vary slightly each year, typically falling between late January and mid-February.
Year of the Dragon in Taiwan
In Taiwan, the Year of the Dragon was celebrated with special appearances by newly elected President Lai Ching-te and the Speaker of the Legislature, Han Kuo-yu, who represents the opposition Nationalist Party advocating for political unification with China.
Taiwan’s ongoing battle for freedom and democracy
Due to its close economic ties with China and complicated political relations, Taiwan faces constant threats from its neighbor. China aims to bring Taiwan and its thriving high-tech economy under its control.
Festive Travel Rush
Apart from Taiwan, other regions, including China, witnessed a surge in travel during the Lunar New Year holiday. Highways were congested, and flights were fully booked as residents traveled to visit their families or took advantage of the approximately one-week break to enjoy vacations abroad.
Welcoming the New Year with Tradition and Unity
Firing bottle rockets and various fireworks has long been a cherished tradition for welcoming the new year and bidding farewell to any lingering sorrows. Alongside this vibrant display, children are given red envelopes filled with cash, symbolizing affection and a prosperous start to the upcoming months.
A Mass Exodus of Reunions
Saturday witnessed an influx of traffic as countless individuals embarked on journeys to reunite with their loved ones across South Korea for the Lunar New Year’s holiday. As the capital region of Seoul, densely populated and bustling with life, began to empty out, royal palaces and other tourist attractions overflowed with visitors adorned in the country’s traditional and colorful “hanbok” robes.
Nostalgia Amidst Unresolved Conflict
In the southern border town of Paju, aging North Korean refugees who had experienced the tumultuous civil war from 1950 to 1953 participated in traditional family rituals. These poignant moments included bowing northward, serving as a reminder of the unresolved nature of the conflict.
A Balancing Act amidst Tensions
Interestingly, this year’s celebrations took place against a backdrop of heightened tensions with North Korea. The neighboring country had been intensifying its weapon tests to challenge regional missile defenses and issuing provocative threats of nuclear conflict with the South. Acknowledging the significance of those guarding their homeland, President Yoon Suk Yeol expressed his gratitude to South Korean soldiers in ensuring the nation’s safety, enabling everyone to partake in the festivities. Their unwavering dedication along the “frontline barbwires, sea, and sky” deserves recognition.
Tet: Vietnam’s Festive Spirit
Vietnam also embraced the Lunar New Year, known locally as Tet. The country joined in the jubilant celebrations, enriching its cultural tapestry with spirited parades and commemorations.
The festivities were not confined solely to Asia. Parades and festivities commemorating the Lunar New Year were held in cities across the globe with thriving Asian communities, with notable celebrations in New York and San Francisco.
As we bid farewell to the old and embrace the new, these celebrations serve as a reminder of the enduring power of tradition and unity in the face of challenges.