Kitchen Tips

5 unique Chinese New Year activities across Asia

One of the biggest events on the Asian calendar, Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) is celebrated across the world. From the loud and lively lion dances and fireworks displays in Beijing and Shanghai, to the more subdued affairs in Korea and Japan, there are myriad ways to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Here are five unique Chinese New Year activities in Asian countries:

1. Family honour and folk games in Korea

In Korea, a custom known as sebeh is traditionally observed on Seollal (New Year) in which children wish their elders (grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents) a Happy New Year by bowing to their feet and wishing them luck and prosperity for the year ahead. They also play folk games such as yutnori, a popular family board game using four sticks. The family men fly rectangular, while the girls and women perform acrobatics on a seesaw. Together they share the traditional New Year’s dishes of tteok guk (rice cake soup) and pajeon (pancake).

Tteok Guk - Korean Rice Cake Soup Recipe

2. Ringing bells in Japan

New Year’s Eve in Japan is a subdued affair. The Japanese visit temples and ring the bells 108 times to symbolise the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires. Afterwards, they gather to eat toshikoshi soba, a noodle soup of dashi broth, buckwheat soba noodles, spring onion, tempura flakes and fishcakes.

3. Chingay Parade in Singapore

Held during the first weekend of the Lunar New Year, the Chingay Parade is Asia’s largest street festival, with colourful floats, dragon dances, prancing lions, multicultural performances and vibrant costumes.

4. Reunion dinner in China

Lunar New Year is a time for families to come together, typified by the customary reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve. In fact, Chinese New Year results in the migration of some 2.9 billion people each year, as expats and city dwellers return to their family home during Chunyun, the Spring Festival Travel Period. That travel is rewarded with a sumptuous reunion dinner – read all about the traditional Chinese New Year dishes here.

Chinese Food Etiquette - Then and Now

5. Cleaning and cooking in Vietnam

The most important celebration on the Vietnamese calendar, Tet is like Christmas and New Year rolled into one! Much like in China, the Lunar New Year is seen as a chance to sweep out the bad luck and bring in the new, and so people fastidiously clean their houses, painting, redecorating and filling their homes with fresh fruit and flowers. Families share a meal of sticky rice, roasted watermelon seeds, candied fruits and pork braised in coconut juice. Beyond the home, lion dances and fireworks fill the streets with a cacophony of colour and sounds.

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