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How our Zipsters celebrated Lunar New Year

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Multiple contributors

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January 26, 2023

How our Zipsters celebrated Lunar New Year

Wishing everyone a Happy Lunar New Year as we hop into the Year of the Rabbit!

Two Zipsters - Clement Lue, Strategy Manager, New York and Jess Chau, Talent Acquisition Partner, Sydney- took a break from the celebrations to share the significance of the special holiday and how they’re observing it in 2023.

Could you tell us about the significance of the Lunar New Year to you and your family?

Jess

Lunar New Year is the name more broadly used within a number of countries that celebrate the beginning of the year on the lunisolar calendar. In many south-east Asian countries and cultures, the Lunar New Year is of national significance and celebrations last until the following full moon (which is about 2 weeks).

Lunar New Year is a time where family and friends come together to honour our ancestors, feast and welcome in the New Year with a range of traditions. It is also a time where we wish and pray for good health, prosperity and success for the year to come. Celebrations look different for everyone and traditions that my family usually partake in may not be something that another family does!

Clement

Growing up in my family, Lunar New Years was always one of the very few, if not the only holiday we celebrated in our household. It symbolized the chance to leave behind any past troubles and welcome in a new year filled with good health, happiness, and prosperity.

As immigrants from Taiwan that moved to the suburbs of New Jersey, it was not often I would get to experience my culture widely celebrated especially during my youth when growing up. For us to fit in, we had to adapt and assimilate with everyone around us. Lunar New Year was often one of the few times we could truly step back and reconnect with our roots and customs. To see it now being widely acknowledged as a major holiday by school systems and companies is amazing.

How do you typically celebrate the Lunar New Year, and will you be doing anything special this year?

Clement

Because all of my relatives are still back in Taiwan, we often celebrate Lunar New Years with family friends. We kick off celebrations the night before with a large feast with a variety of foods that would each have their own meaning (steamed fish for luck, dumplings for wealth, noodles for longevity, etc.) and wrap up celebrations exchanging red envelopes ($$$!).

When I was younger, on Lunar New Years Day, my family would also take the time to make a trip up to a Buddhist temple to light incense sticks and pay respect to our ancestors.

This year, I don't actually have too many plans for Lunar New Year’s. I need to spend the next day or two cleaning my apartment as it is custom to do a "spring clean" to cleanse any bad luck so you can welcome in new luck. Then over the weekend, I plan on visiting some friends and family for dinner and to play some Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game.

Jess

Ethnically, I am Chinese and Vietnamese but I grew up with traditions that lean more closely to Vietnamese culture. In Vietnamese culture, the Lunar New Year is called Tết. My family's festivities begin on the New Year where my extended family would usually visit my grandparents. We set out food for our ancestors to eat then we partake in pray.

The rest of the night we feast on delicious food and play games, such as 13 (Chinese Poker), Black Jack, Mahjong and Fish Prawn Crab. We also can't forget the red packets which are usually exchanged on this night! It is always the case that those older than you - such as grandparents, aunties, uncles - give you a red packet.

Lunar New Year celebrates a zodiac sign, there are small differences in the zodiacs between Vietnamese and Chinese culture. Although this year is more commonly known as the year of the rabbit (according to Chinese Zodiac), in Vietnamese it is actually the year of the cat! The Vietnamese replaced the Ox and Rabbit with the Buffalo and Cat respectively.

In the following days, we welcome in the New Year by visiting Buddhist temples around Western Sydney where there is a large Asian community. We try to visit 12 temples since that is the number of Zodiacs. Many people visit temples to once again pray and wish for a good year to come. You will commonly see people dress in traditional clothing, in Vietnamese culture we call this Ao Dai.

What makes it even better is that I am able to extend the period of time I am celebrating with my family with a day of cultural leave supported by Zip! In previous years I’ve always had to take AL so it’s really great that we have a policy that allows our Zipsters to be able to celebrate those special times in the year.

Thanks Clement and Jess for sharing – may the year ahead bring you good fortune, health and success!

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