Across Asia, children and families who you help support through sponsorship celebrate the Lunar New Year! Although commonly known in the West as “Chinese New Year,” many countries in Asia observe Lunar New Year — marking the first moon in the lunar calendar. In 2022, Lunar New Year falls on February 1 (based on the Chinese lunar calendar).
Each month over the coming year, we plan to share about holidays celebrated in different countries where you help care for children and families in need. To kick off this series, Holt program directors have provided some insight into how sponsored children and families celebrate in two countries where Lunar New Year is a major holiday — Korea and Vietnam!
Seollal — Lunar New Year in Korea
During Seollal, or Korean Lunar New Year, families traditionally gather together from all over Korea to pay their respects to both ancestors and elders. While the centerpiece of the holiday has been the ritual of ancestor worship, today it is more a celebration of family. Families will dress in “Hanboks” (traditional clothing), take part in ceremonies and games, and eat traditional foods such as ddeokguk, or rice cake soup. On Seollal, consuming a bowl of ddeokguk marks a person’s lunar calendar birthday. Another important Lunar New Year tradition in Korea is “Sebae” — where children and adults bow in respect to their elders and receive small gifts of money to express their support and love. All exchange their wishes for good health, happiness and success for the coming year.
At the Holt Ilsan Center for children and adults with special needs, each group home celebrates as a family. They share ddeokguk, play traditional games, and younger residents will bow to their elders. Residents will walk up the hill to the gravesites of Holt founders Harry and Bertha Holt and their daughter, Molly, who devoted her life to caring for the residents at Ilsan. The residents will tend to the gravesites and offer their prayers. Children in other Holt programs in Korea also celebrate Seollal with the support of their sponsors. They will dress in Hanboks, receive gifts, eat traditional foods and enjoy the holiday with their foster families, caregivers or families. Seollal is a time when children typically receive even greater amounts of love and attention from all those around them. — Paul Kim, Director of Programs in Korea
Tết — Lunar New Year in Vietnam
In Vietnam, Lunar New Year — or “Tết” — is the biggest holiday of the year. Vietnamese people celebrate by decorating their home in the color red, wearing beautiful new clothes, eating good food and sharing wishes that the coming time will bring happiness and prosperity. In the communities where sponsored children live with their families, children help decorate and prepare traditional dishes such as Banh Chung, a savory sticky rice cake. During the first days of Lunar New Year, children and their parents pay visits to their relatives and neighbors. They respectfully bow in front of those respected adults, express their gratitude and deliver good wishes. In return, they receive red envelopes that contain some money as a token of good wishes from their elders.
Through your support, sponsored children living in orphanages also celebrate Tết in Vietnam. They plant ornamental trees and flowers or decorate with colorful banners and balloons. Your sponsorship makes it possible for them to have parties where they receive red envelopes with money or other gifts, and perform songs and dances. With children off from school, care centers may also organize field trips for the children. Tết is a time when children can be carefree, enjoy games and festivals, and eat the best foods of the year. — Hang Dam, Director of Programs in Vietnam
Thank you for making important holiday celebrations like Lunar New Year possible for children in Holt programs! Watch for emails each month to learn more about holidays where your sponsored child and other children live around the world. From all of us at Holt, Happy New Year!
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