Wisdom//

6 Lessons Everyone Can Learn From the Lunar New Year

The present-day rituals we can draw from the holiday’s traditional roots.

TwoMeows/ Getty Images
TwoMeows/ Getty Images

Many people with roots in Asia can expect to celebrate the New Year at least twice a year. Often referred to as “Chinese New Year,” Lunar New Year is tied to the traditional Chinese calendar, and tends to fall around late January to early February each year. It’s celebrated across Asia and around the world, from Vietnam and Indonesia to Korea and, of course, China.

Over the weeklong celebration, it’s customary for families to reunite in their hometowns, host a banquet, watch parades, set off fireworks, and more. There are plenty of traditions that still hold to this day, many of which are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and values. Here are some of the Lunar New Year traditions that we think everyone can learn from.

Tidy up (and know when to take a break)

Netflix’s new Marie Kondo series may have everyone in a tizzy right now, but in China, the cleaning craze has been a yearly custom for hundreds of years. Take the time to restore order in your home, clearing out the old in order to make room for the new.

Equally as important is knowing when to step back and take a break. Once New Year’s Eve comes and goes, it’s considered unlucky to clean during the following week, as it risks “sweeping out the good luck” along with the bad. Whether or not you subscribe to the superstition, it’s as good an excuse as any to kick up your feet, relax, and revel in a job well done.

Treat yourself right

New Year’s is quite possibly the best time to cultivate a new you — both inside and out. Many Chinese make a point of buying a new outfit and visiting a beauty salon, to look and feel their best for New Year’s Eve. Wearing something red, an auspicious color in Chinese culture, is also a must. And if you haven’t yet joined in Thrive Global’s Microstep Month, choosing a small, actionable step to make meaningful changes in your life, now is a great time.

Put family first

During the Lunar New Year, family is priority number one. It’s no coincidence that the largest mass migration in human history is caused by millions of people travelling over many miles to gather together with family. It’s customary during this holiday to take the time to visit relatives in order of importance, starting with the oldest living relatives closest to you — in many cases, grandparents. In any case, it marks a great time to reconnect with family near and far, young and old, and let them know you’re thinking of them.

If the prospect of a family reunion causes you more anxiety than excitement, you’re not alone either. Pressure can be immense over the New Year for young Chinese, so much so that people hire boyfriends or girlfriends to avoid relatives’ probing questions. (For more on how to stay calm during family holiday gatherings, read this.)

Give generously…

One of the most prevalent symbols of Chinese New Year is the hongbao, or red envelope, that is given to family and friends. Naturally, these traditions are getting a digital-age update; online hongbao borrow Chinese New Year imagery but are sent year-round to family, friends, and even strangers in messaging apps like WeChat.

Though it is a giving season, it’s easy to forget that gifts don’t need to be monetary or limited to your inner circle. Make an unexpected gesture to someone you love, or pay it forward by donating to those in need.

… and pay your debts

Keeping debt low is always wise, and in China, New Year’s is a time to clear up any outstanding debts you may have. If you have extra income this season, make a dent in credit card payments, or repay loans and favors from friends or family. Just make sure you have enough left over for those red envelopes.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. 

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

    The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Well-Being//

    Stress and Burnout in China: Modern Problems, Ancient Solutions

    by Arianna Huffington
    Community//

    Are we lucky, logical or biased?

    by Christine Westermark
    Community//

    I Want To Start a “Good Elites Movement” With Professor Tomas Casas

    by Yitzi Weiner

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.