We love this time of year because we get to celebrate one of our most favorite holidays — Lunar New Year. Whether you come from an Asian background or not, we invite you to learn more about the Lunar New Year and the traditions and symbols surrounding it. As we learn more about each other’s cultures, the deeper respect and appreciation we begin to have for each other. To read a primer on our co-founders, sisters Renee and Tiffany Tam’s family heritage, you can find their family story and history in our past journal posts. You can read all about how they have brought their own Asian heritage into these silk robes for women and get to know more about the culture behind this homegrown brand.
The origins of Lunar New Year were a “time of feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors” as described on History.com. At the first new moon in the month of January, Lunar New Year begins and celebrations go on for about two weeks or so until the next full moon arrives. As the holiday associates closely to the lunar calendar, it also relates to the zodiac calendar. And every year, the lunar calendar is represented by a zodiac animal (there are 12 zodiac animals in all — the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig). In addition to the animals, the elements of earth, water, fire, wood and metal are also related to the traditional lunar calendar, so every year corresponds to both an animal and an element.
The year of 2023 is the Year of the Water Rabbit. In Chinese culture, the rabbit symbolizes longevity, peace, and prosperity. So with the Water Rabbit, also sometimes known as the Black Rabbit, 2023 is predicted to be a year of hope! For Chinese astrology, patience and luck are embodied by the rabbit. So if you felt like you were lacking success or the peace that comes with it, the water rabbit in 2023 symbolizes a happy turn of events. Any impulsive or rash instincts you have may be tempered with rational and practical thought, making this an ideal time for decision making, realizing your goals, and achieving your highest aspirations.
The answer is — it depends on the culture who’s celebrating it! There are so many different Asian heritages and cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year, some among them being Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean. There will be differences between each celebration, with the most obvious differences being in the food and traditions that are particular to each culture. Even though traditions and food may vary, the similarity is that all celebrations represent togetherness, prosperity, and abundance.
One way to celebrate is to clean the house and reset the energy and spirits of the household for the new year. We suggest a little after-cleaning ritual as well: slip into your favorite silk bathrobe after you’ve cleaned the house and start the new year bringing in a little extra luxury to your everyday routines. Cleaning helps to open the space for good luck and good will. There are even some households that hold rituals to offer food and paper icons to ancestors. In Chinese culture, red is an incredibly lucky color, so some families post red paper and banners inscribed with calligraphy messages of good health and fortune to adorn their freshly swept homes. From our silk robes for women to kimono robes for men, our collection features so many hints of red that could be one fresh idea in how to bring the lucky color to those in your household this Lunar New Year. One commonly known tradition is when elders gift red envelopes containing money to children. Foods representing good luck and abundance, such as rice, are part of traditional meals as well. There are so many ways, big and small, to celebrate this special time.
One of the things we love the most about our kimono store is that every year during Lunar New Year, the parade stops one block from our storefront and we love meeting everyone who is coming to watch the parade. San Francisco, California has one of the biggest Lunar New Year celebrations in the world, and our kimono store is right in the heart of it. Our hometown has hosted a Lunar New Year celebration since the Gold Rush era of the 1860s, during a timeframe of large-scale Chinese immigration to this part of the country. Celebration and travel is a huge part of the modern holiday, and as noted in the LA Times, and our kimono store loves being a part of that big San Francisco parade celebration.
We sat down with co-founder Tiffany Tam to learn more about how the Tam family has celebrated Lunar New Year at KIM+ONO and beyond. Tiffany explains, “Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays that is celebrated in our culture. It signifies getting together with family, and sending everyone well wishes for the new year.” Some of her favorite parts of the holiday include celebrating with family, making traditional altars to honor their ancestors, eating lots of delicious and symbolic dishes and treats, getting dressed in new clothes (including our silk robes for women based on their family heritage), and receiving lucky red envelopes. Tiffany says, “At home I like to set up a Lunar New Year centerpiece/altar on our dining table that includes cherry blossoms, auspicious fruits, candy, lucky red envelopes, and good luck charms. When we get together with family, we greet each other saying "gung hay fat choy" which means best wishes for a prosperous new year and we pass out lucky red envelopes to the kids. Then we share a feast together with all of the symbolic dishes - longevity noodles, fish for abundance, and chicken for prosperity.” Celebrating Lunar New Year is a beautiful part of the rich Asian heritage that our founders bring to every single silk bathrobe they make. And Tiffany says, “I am proud to be an Asian American. Celebrating Lunar New Year is being true to our culture and heritage, it is our identity. I hope to pass on these traditions to our kids and future generations.”
Gung hay fat choy!