Vietnamese New Year
Vietnamese New Year is romantically known as ‘Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’ and is a celebration of the arrival of spring based on the lunisolar calendar used by the Chinese, so the events happen on the same day. Similar to Chinese New Year, Vietnamese people give their houses a thorough cleaning beforehand and there are various cultural rituals bound up with the festival as the preparation of special holiday foods and decorating of the home using flowers such as chrysanthemums and orchids.
On New Year’s Day Vietnamese children are given money in special red packets and people visit friends and family, but they are careful to arrange their visit first as the first person to cross someone’s threshold on New Year supposedly determines that family’s fortune for the whole of the coming year.
Cambodian New Year
In Cambodia, Lunar New Year (known as Chinese New Year) is not a public holiday, but many Cambodians want to celebrate it. Similar to Lunar New Year in China, on the New Year’s Eve people cook a lot of traditional Chinese foods to pray to ancestors, followed by a big family dinner. On New Year's Day, people also give away red pockets to friends and relatives who come to visit. Some families also hire the lion dancers to perform at their business places to welcome the New Year.
Korean New Year
Lunar New Year in Korea is known as Seollal. Seollal is a time for paying respect to ancestors and to meet up with family and old friends. It is also a time to embrace Korean cultural and culinary traditions. It is not uncommon to see people dressed in a Hanbok (traditional clothes), performing ancestral rites, playing traditional games and listening to old folk stories.
Tteokguk (rice cake soup), Galbi Jjim (braised short ribs) and Jeon (Korean pancakes) are some of the delicious foods you will see during Seollal.
Thai New Year
Derived from the Sanskrit word meaning to pass and move into, Songkran signals the beginning of a new solar year. The first day of celebration transforms Thailand into a giant water fight. But it is not just fun and games, Thais believe that water washes away bad luck, so throwing it is actually a sign of respect and well-wishing.
On the 14th, also known as Family Day, people spend time at home with their loved ones. Lastly, on the third day of New Year, Thais visit wats (Buddhist monasteries) to ask for forgiveness and give alms.
Filipino New Year
Filipinos have a number of fascinating cultural rituals and beliefs centered around the New Year period. For example, it is believed that if you carry money in your pockets during the transition from the old year to the new, you will be prosperous in the year ahead. You should also open all the doors and windows in your house and turn on all the lights, to ensure that good fortune will be welcomed to your house in the New Year.
Meanwhile, at the stroke of midnight, people across the country will let off fireworks, blow car horns, clang pots and pans and ring church bells, in the belief that making as much noise as possible will ward off bad spirits and ensure a bountiful New Year ahead. Then, at around a quarter past twelve, all the family will sit down to a lavish feast know as Media Noche, as much food as possible is placed on the table, to ensure you will always have enough to eat in the New Year.
Chinese New Year
According to legend, Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called “Nian”, a bull and lion-like creature that appeared in China on New Year’s Eve. Learning that the monster feared fire, loud noises, and the color red, the villagers covered their houses in red and lit firecrackers to scare him off.
People still honor the origin story, hanging red lanterns and parading through the streets as dragons and lions. Afterward, they feast on celebratory dishes like longevity noodles, which symbolize a long life, and give children red envelopes stuffed with money to encourage good fortune in the New Year.