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A Different Reunion

Updated: Apr 25, 2019

It’s that time of the year when red lanterns go up, 4D numbers rain gloriously down, good luck is ushered in and bad luck chased out. Well-known well-wishes will roll off my tongue – the most fluent I’ll ever be in Mandarin – traded for red packets. Remember to settle your debts before 初一, the first day of Lunar New Year, and avoid sharp objects or any variation of the word “death”!

Many Lunar New Year customs seem to originate from old superstitions. We may not even be aware of their origins. I, for one, only recently discovered the reason why we wear red and set off firecrackers during the Lunar New Year. Legend has it that it took the color red and loud noises to finally frighten off the monster called 年 (nian), a terrifying sea monster that would come ashore to hunt villagers near the start of each lunar year. Understandably, Lunar New Year is referred to as 过年 – to pass, or survive, the year (年 is also the Chinese character for 'year'). That was a big “ah-ha” moment for me, hearing this story from my mother for the first time.