Feb. 1, 2022 marks Lunar New Year and ushers in the Year of the Tiger. Lunar New Year is an important and joyous holiday for many people around the world, especially within East and South East Asian communities, celebrated with family gatherings, traditional foods, lanterns, parades and gifts. Mozillians shared some of their favorite Lunar New Year memories and thoughts on how they’ll celebrate and share with friends at the virtual office this year.
Rowe Hoffer, Sr. EA to Mitchell Baker; Lead, EA Cohort
Growing up in Manila, Philippines, the Lunar New Year was like having a second round of celebrations that we looked forward to. As a child, my dad would take me to an area in Manila called “Binondo” which is considered as the oldest Chinatown in the world. The streets were beautifully decorated with lanterns, and we would watch the parades. We would dine at our favorite noodle restaurant and the owner would always gift us “tikoy” to bring home. “Tikoy” is made from sticky rice. My dad used to say that the noodles’ symbol is for long life (we don’t cut the noodles), and the “tikoy” symbolizes unity among family members.
Christine Tran, Staff People Operations Program Manager
As a child, Lunar New Year always meant multiple days of celebration where friends and family would come over to my parents’ house and hand out lì xì (red envelopes with money) to all of the children. There were always tasty sweets and delicious foods that I only ate at that time of year, which made them all the more special. As an adult, I look back now and see that Lunar New Year was special, not just because of the sweets or the red envelopes, but because we were spending time with the people we loved and were celebrating an important part of our Vietnamese culture together.
Rizki Kelimutu, Community Manager
Lunar New Year in Indonesia is a big day for the local Chinese community. As a child, I liked the local parade called Barongsai (or lion dance), which looked pretty cool to me. The Chinese community also celebrates it by sharing money in red envelopes, locally known as angpao, with their younger relatives. And of course, sharing food together with the whole family. My favorite snack during the Lunar New year is called Kue Keranjang (Nian gao), which roughly translates as a basket cake in Indonesian. What’s funny is that the phrase “Gong Xi Fa Cai” that people tell each other during Lunar New Year actually means “I wish you happiness and prosperity”. I believe many locals here still believe that it means “Happy Lunar Year”.
Venetia Tay, Product Manager
We believe that the first day of the Lunar New Year is an opportunity to start anew and sets the tone for how the rest of the year will go. To prepare, we spring clean our home (we are not allowed to use a broom as we might “sweep” away the good luck) and purchase new outfits for the day. Lunar New Year is a time for gathering with family and friends filled with food and mahjong. The reunion dinner on the eve kicks off the eating fest. One of the unique traditions we celebrate in Singapore is on the 7th day, also known as ‘Ren Ri’ or “Everybody’s birthday” and we will “lo hei”. It is a raw fish salad (“yu sheng”) where each ingredient has a significance and everyone is invited to toss and shout out their hopes for the year. The higher you toss; the more likely it is to come true! Let’s see if that works out for me this year <wink>.
Mandy Chan, Workplace Resources & Travel Manager
Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in Hong Kong. Traditionally, red pockets (利是) are gifts usually given out to anyone who’s younger and/or unmarried, symbolizing good luck. I remember Lunar New Year being a holiday that’s normally over a week long where you spend time celebrating with your friends and family, really buzzy! My whole family would go to my nan’s and she used to make trays and trays of favourite, turnip cakes, a dish made of shredded radish and rice flour — really delicious (recipe here). I have 12 cousins, so does the Chinese zodiac; on the first day of the new year, all 12 of the us would line up, get red pockets from my grandparents and take the annual photo, my family still call us “Twelve Zodiacs” (十二生肖).
Yeonjoo Yoo, Product Data Scientist
Growing up in Korea, Lunar New Year (Seollal, 설날) has been one of the most exciting days of the year. I was told as a child, eating the rice cake soup (Tteokguk, 떡국) means getting one year older, so I used to eat a second bowl to get older than my older brother (which I wish I hadn’t now I look back.) Also our family visited relatives to participate in Charye (차례) which was a memorial service for passed family members. After the memorial service and a huge meal from Charye, we gave our elders a deep traditional bow (Sebae, 세배), and the elders wished good year for us and gave pocket money (Sebaet Don), mostly for kids. Sebat don was usually given with crisp paper bills and it was the biggest funding source for the entire year for me as a little kid.
After I came to the U.S. to study in college and ended up living here after my education, Lunar New Year has been a very quiet day as I had lived alone for a very long time. But it was a day that I am reminded that I am loved and missed from getting phone calls from my family and it became a time to pause and remind myself of the new beginning with a bowl of rice cake soup.
Art created by Marlene Hirose, Mozilla Data Engineer