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  • Terry Nguyen

How Lunar New Year became a shopping holiday for Western brands


The stretch of time between end-of-year celebrations and Valentine’s Day is usually bleak. People are physically and financially drained from the holidays, and there’s not much to celebrate — a dry spell that has led brands to create a deluge of fake holidays like National Shortbread Day (January 6) and National Shop for Travel Day (January 14).

Within the past decade, a spate of brands both luxury and affordable have adopted a new holiday into their calendars, one that’s already celebrated by more than a billion people annually: Lunar New Year. In the US, the holiday is generally referred to as Chinese New Year, but Lunar New Year seems like a more accurate description, given that the event is also observed by non-Chinese people.

What is Lunar New Year?

While Lunar New Year 2020 officially falls on January 25, the holiday is celebrated across multiple days and even weeks in places like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Under the Gregorian calendar used by most countries worldwide, the new year starts on January 1. Lunar New Year is the celebration under the lunisolar calendar — which is based on cycles of the moon — and typically falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice.

The specific celebrations and formal dates encompassing the holiday vary by country and culture, but it’s an important day reserved for festivities to ring in the new year. Celebrants host elaborate meals with extended families, exchange money or gifts for good fortune, party in the streets, and set off fireworks. Lunar New Year in China, which is called the Spring Festival, has 15 days of festivities, South Korea’s Seollal celebration lasts 12 days, and Vietnam’s Tết Nguyên Đán is a week long.

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