We are thrilled to be celebrating Lunar New Year and want to share the beauty of this holiday with our lovely community! Whether you have Asian heritage or not, we invite you to learn more about the Lunar New Year and culture, knowing that the more we learn about each other’s cultures, the deeper respect and appreciation we can have for each other. If you’d like to do a deeper read of our co-founders’, sisters Tiffany and Renee Tam’, family heritage, check out our journal posts about the heritage behind these silk robes for women and sign up for our VIP list to learn more about the culture behind the brand.
Lunar New Year is a holiday that began as a “time of feasting and to honor household and heavenly deities, as well as ancestors” as described on History.com. Lunar New Year begins with the first new moon that happens toward the end of January and beginning of February, and we celebrate for the first two weeks or so of the month until the following full moon arrives. As it’s closely linked 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 2022 is the Year of the Water Tiger.
There are a variety of cultures that celebrate Lunar New Year, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean cultures. Everyone will celebrate a little bit differently with markers of foods and traditions that are meaningful to each culture. The main element of the food and traditions is that they represent togetherness, prosperity, and abundance. You may find yourself thoroughly cleaning the house to reset the energy and spirits of the household for the new year. (You may even slip into your favorite silk bathrobe after you’ve cleaned the house and start the new year on a new, silky foot!) 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. Red is an incredibly lucky color in Chinese culture, so some families post red paper and banners inscribed with calligraphy messages of good health and fortune to adorn their freshly swept homes. 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.
Dating back to the 14th century B.C. and the Shang Dynasty in China, the Lunar New Year has been carrying out rituals and traditions on the first day of the Chinese calendar year for centuries. According to history.com, “This holiday has ancient roots in China as an agricultural society. It was the occasion to celebrate the harvest and worship the gods and ask for good harvests in times to come," explains Yong Chen, a scholar in Asian American Studies. After centuries of celebration, in 1996, China formally announced a weeklong vacation during the holiday—now it’s commonly referred to as the Spring Festival—giving people the opportunity to travel home and to celebrate the new year and traditions that come with it.
Something we’re incredibly proud of at KIM+ONO is that San Francisco, California has a Lunar New Year parade that comes right near the store and it’s the biggest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. 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. Celebrating and travel is a huge part of the modern holiday, and as noted in the LA Times, KIM+ONO loves being a part of that big San Francisco parade celebration.
We sat down with co-founder Tiffany Tam to talk more about what the holiday means to the Tam family:
1. Why is Lunar New Year important to you?
It 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.
2. What are some of your favorite memories of CNY in the past?
Celebrating with family, traditional altars to honor our ancestors, eating lots of delicious and symbolic dishes and treats, getting dressed in new clothes (including our brand new silk robes for women based on sisterhood and family traditions!), and receiving lucky red envelopes.
3. What are some of the ways you celebrate CNY with your family?
At home I like to set up a CNY 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.
4. How does CNY bring you joy?
I am proud to be an Asian American. Celebrating CNY is being true to our culture and heritage, it is our identity. I hope to pass on these traditions to our daughter and future generations.
The Tam family heritage is woven into every piece — from plus size kimono robes to kimono robes for men — the history of their Chinese and Japanese cultures are stitched into a brand new modern silk bathrobe to bring a sense of tradition to your home. We hope as you celebrate and learn more about Lunar New Year, you’re inspired by your own silk bathrobe at home — it’s meaningful botanicals and birds, the fresh clean feeling of silk, and the idea that with every deep breath you too can begin again.
Gung hay fat choy!