Northwell Health celebrates Lunar New Year and welcomes the Year of the Rat
Written by: Bridges Asian BERG Co-Chairs
Lunar New Year Traditions
Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is one of the most important traditional festivals in certain Asian cultures such as Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. It is also a time for families to be together and celebrate a year of hard work and wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year.
Red is the main color for the festival, as it is believed to be a “lucky” color. Red lanterns are also displayed in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with pictures and writings representing prosperity.
In Chinese culture, New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner” and is believed to be the most important meal of the year, where families sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together. Certain foods are eaten during the New Year’s Eve dinner, because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances, like fish, sticky rice cake, oranges, dumplings, noodles, as they symbolize abundance, fortune and longevity.
To wish someone Happy New Year in Mandarin, say “xīn nián kuài lè” (新年快乐) and in Cantonese, “Gong Hey Fat Choi” (恭喜发财).
In Korean culture, Lunar New Year is referred to as Seollal or Gujeong. During Seollal, it is customary to visit family to show respect to the elders by taking a deep bow to those senior to them as a form of greeting; this is called sebae. The celebration lasts for three days, starting the day before and ending the day after the Lunar New Year.
Seollal comes bearing many gifts for the family which can vary from money to hangwa (traditional sweets and cookies), shampoo, soap, and toothpaste, or gift sets of meat or fruits. It is also a time for the entire family to gather and play traditional games like yunnori. It is played by throwing four sticks and moving your game markers around the board depending on the number of up-facing sticks. Each team has four markers and the first team to get all four of their markers around the board wins.
During the celebration, a traditional clear soup, called tteokguk is served. It is made with sliced rice cakes, beef, egg, vegetables, and other ingredients. The clear broth is believed to symbolize starting out the year with a clean mind and body.
To wish Happy New Year in Korean, say “sae hae bok manhi bah doo seh yo” (새해 복 많이 받으세요), which means hope you have much good luck in the new year.
Northwell Celebrates Lunar New Year Traditions
On January 25th, for the tenth consecutive year, contingents from Northwell Health, members of the Bridges Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG) and Community Relations marched in the Lunar New Year Parade in downtown Flushing, New York. The parade is the highlight of Lunar New Year celebrations in Flushing, including dragon dancers, kettle drummers and fireworks. The march draws a considerable number of spectators each year.
Spanning a total of 15 days, the Lunar New Year is a joyous time of renewal marked by gatherings with family and friends, elaborate feasts, parades, fireworks and gift giving. 2020 is the year of the Year of the Rat (or Mouse) and it marks the return of spring and reunion of family.
Northwell’s Bridges Asian BERG leads, Suki To and Lulu Liu, collaborated with Lenox Hill Hospital’s Human Resources department, Northwell’s Diversity and Health Equity (D&HE) Site Council, and team members from Lenox Hill’s cafeteria to provide a taste of traditional foods served during the Lunar New Year. This included Chinese, Japanese and Korean rice cakes, traditional New Year candies, dry fruits and tea tastings.
Members of the Chinese Association of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research (CAFI), led by President Dr. Dan Li, and the Feinstein’s Diversity Committee, celebrated the Lunar New Year with a luncheon for members who also sang traditional New Year songs. The Feinstein workforce were invited to share a special New Year cake and learn more about the holiday.
We also hosted a packing event, to prepare giveaways to be distributed during the parade in Flushing. Team members assisted by helping to pack bags and red envelopes filled with a special chocolate gold coin. Red envelopes are usually gifts presented at social and family gatherings such as weddings or holidays. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is a symbol to ward off evil spirits. The envelopes are usually given to children by the elder of the household.
During the packing event, Northwell Health’s Lunar New Year mascot made a surprise appearance!
Northwell Health and members of its Bridges Asian Business Employee Resource Group (BERG), wish you good health, good luck and an abundance of happiness throughout the year.
Happy Lunar New Year!
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