Joy and good health for the Lunar New Year

中文 | 漢語 | Tiếng Việt | 한국어 | ភាសាខ្មែរ

Happy Year of the Ox!

We welcome the ox, who is steadfast and hard-working, kind and logical. And like the ox, we should be steadfast and kind in our determination to keep loved ones safe while we celebrate the New Year.

Smaller gatherings, big traditions

Lunar New Year is a treasured time for family togetherness. With COVID-19 still spreading (including new variants of the virus), it’s safer to keep celebrations smaller and avoid crowded places. We’ll miss the banquet parties and bustling street festivals, but we can still celebrate with our traditions.

Here is what Sinang Lee, in our Environmental Health Division, is doing. “My mom mailed mooncakes and lucky red money envelopes to my kids. We also lay out an array of dishes and have pictures of our ancestors at the head of the table. We light incense to honor them and welcome them to eat before everyone else begins to eat. This year, we’ll also Zoom with grandma.”

A family tradition for Khanh Ho, an environmental health educator, is exchanging foods with relatives and friends for Tet (Lunar New Year in Vietnamese). “This year—as with many other holiday exchanges—the plan is to deliver and drop off the gifts in front of folks’ homes and not come in. Many of the stores and delis in Little Saigon have these seasonal treats, a lot of them do pre-orders, too!”

Tips for shopping and easy meals

Food is such a big part of the traditions, and Alan Lai, a community navigator for our COVID-19 response, says that this means many people will be shopping. “Chinese New Year Eve is the most important family dinner for the whole year. Expect supermarkets and restaurants to be packed. And there will be more to-go orders due to the pandemic. Expect extra long lines.”

To prevent exposure to COVID-19, try to shop when it’s least likely to be crowded, and make sure to wear a mask that fits snugly and covers your mouth and nose. Make a list so you can get your shopping done with as little time in the store as possible. If your supermarket offers curbside pick-up, that is a safer option.

Take-out is also an excellent option, especially because we have such a wealth of delicious, local restaurants. Eva Wong, one of our epidemiologists, grew up having large dumpling parties. “This year, I am planning to order frozen dumplings and make them at home. It’s not the year for a big party.” And of course, you support our local business community by ordering in!

Different ways for cultural connection

Lin Song, who works on assessment and evaluation at Public Health, won’t be visiting relatives, but he will stay connected. “I’ll send ‘Happy New Year’ e-cards to relatives and friends in China and the U.S. over WeChat. And I’ll watch the New Year Celebration Chinese TV shows on the internet.”

There are also local events to enjoy in the virtual world:
• On Saturday, February 13, at 1 pm you can view a Lunar New Year program on Zoom from the Wing Luke Museum, including lion dancers!
• The celebration continues into the week, when CISC will host a Lunar New Year event via YouTube on Thursday, February 18 at 7 pm with music performances, dances, and traditions.

It’s hard when family and friends can’t all be together for the holiday, but it’s so important that we take care of each other by finding safe ways to celebrate. If you must gather, keep visits short. Visit outdoors, if possible, or make sure that any indoor space has good ventilation (wear warm clothes and keep windows and doors open if you can).

Wishing everyone health and good fortune in the Year of the Ox!

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I am a risk communications specialist at Public Health - Seattle & King County.