Lunar New Year: An Introduction

The UL Community is diverse with many different cultures and traditions, and here our student ambassador Sonya San will introduce us to some usual practices for Lunar New Year! Read on and find out why you should toss your salad high, and how you can get away with not sweeping the floor…

The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, is a celebration that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The way it is celebrated may vary depending on the country in which you celebrate. Disregarding of where you celebrate, here are 5 traditions that are being followed till this very day.

Red is the colour

It is easy to spot when the Lunar New Year is around the corner because every street, building and house where the Lunar New Year is celebrated is decorated with red. Red is believed to be an auspicious colour as it symbolises prosperity and good fortune for the coming new year. Other than red lanterns and couplets being hung on the front door, people would often wear red outfits especially on the first day of the festival. Fun fact: it would be absolutely disrespectful to wear black on the first day of the festival!

Red Packets or ‘Ang Paus’

Just like how people exchange gifts during Christmas, people would exchange gifts during the Lunar New Year and these gifts are normally red envelopes or red packets known as ‘Ang Paus’. Customarily, the older generation would give these red packets which have money in it to the younger generation as a form of blessing. Of course, nowadays, people may choose to send it electronically.

Do not sweep the floor

As the Lunar New Year approaches, families would carry out house cleaning to wash away the bad luck of the past year. However, it is said that sweeping the floor on the first day of the Lunar New Year is an absolute no no. By sweeping the floor, it means that you’ll be sweeping away all your fortune!

Photo by furkanfdemir on

‘Toss the Salad’

‘Yee Sang’ or ‘The Prosperity Toss’ is a salad that incorporates over 20 ingredients and each of these ingredients have a different meaning. For example, raw salmon symbolises ‘having extra wealth’, plum sauce has the meaning of ‘always sweetens your life’. Traditionally, family and friends would get together to ‘toss the salad’ which is to literally mix all of these ingredients together. There is a saying, ‘the higher you toss, the more good fortune you will have’.

Lighting firecrackers

New Year’s firecrackers are made from strings of rolled red paper containing gunpowder that, when set off, leave shreds of scarlet paper in their wake. The loud sound that comes from the lighted firecracker is believed to scare off ‘Nian’, the lion-like monster who legend says rose from the sea for a feast of human flesh on the new year. Over the years, lighting firecrackers has brought the meaning of chasing off evil and bringing good luck.


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