01 February 2022

From salads to soup: How FMA staff celebrate Lunar New Year

Known as Chunjie in China, Tet in Vietnam and Solnal in Korea, Lunar New Year is an important holiday celebrated throughout Asia, with each culture having a unique set of traditions.  

To mark the occasion, we asked a handful of FMA-ers how they celebrate Lunar New Year.

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Lunar New Year celebrations at the FMA office Jan 2020

How Lunar New Year is celebrated in Malaysian/ Singaporean Chinese culture

Image of Lynda KuanLynda Kuan - Principal Adviser, Financial Advice

“While Malaysia and Singapore are multicultural, Lunar New Year is an important holiday for those of Chinese descent. Leading up to the festival, it is common for people to spring clean the house and get rid of anything that is broken. Prosperity salads, or yusheng, is a traditional New Year’s dish distinct to Malaysia and Singapore. Slices of raw fish and various shredded vegetables are arranged on a plate and the salad is tossed using chopsticks at the table to represent abundance.

“Since migrating to New Zealand more than 30 years ago, I try to carry on some traditions so my children can appreciate their origins and culture. Pre-COVID, we would attend the Auckland Lantern Festival to celebrate the last day of the 15-day festival. As some traditional New Year delicacies, like prosperity salads, aren’t easily found in New Zealand, I will make these at home.”

How to say Happy New Year in Cantonese: Gong hei fat choy

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Lynda’s homemade Prosperity Salad for the FMA Lunar New Year celebrations 2020


How Lunar New Year is celebrated in Chinese culture

Image of Vera NiVera Ni – Accountant, Finance

“Celebrated over 15 days, Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and a time for family reunions. People try their best to return to their families, no matter how far, bearing gifts. Family reunions involve a big dinner with elders giving children red envelopes of cash to symbolise good wishes for the year ahead.  At midnight, people set off firecrackers and fireworks to mark the arrival of the new year with a bang.”

“The last time I was able to celebrate Chinese New Year in China was in February 2020. Plans to visit China since have been hampered by COVID-19. Here in New Zealand, we have a formal dinner with family and friends and watch the state broadcaster CCTV’s New Year’s Gala.”

How to say Happy New Year in Mandarin: Xīn nián kuài lè

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Red envelopes from Vera’s celebrations


How Lunar New Year is celebrated in Taiwanese culture

Image of Becca MaBecca Ma – Senior Adviser, Supervision

“Families get together to celebrate with food and lots of music. In our family, among many other dishes we make hundreds of dumplings and place a coin in one of them. The person who gets the dumpling containing the coin will have an exceptionally auspicious year ahead (supposedly – if they don’t lose a tooth first!) Adults will play mahjong, a tile-based game, and drink home-made fermented rice wine. This is off-limits to the kids who will play with firecrackers instead.”

“The celebrations have dialed down since moving to New Zealand and being away from my extended family. The last time I celebrated Lunar New Year in Taiwan was about seven years ago when I went back to visit. We now celebrate Lunar New Year with our family friends, including families from Malaysia, Northern and Southern China, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia – you name it! It’s a very multicultural affair and the cuisine is a lot more wide-ranging than what we used to have, which I have enjoyed!”

How to say Happy New Year: Gōng   cái


How Lunar New Year is celebrated in Korean culture

Image of Monica MoonMonica Moon - Senior Solicitor, Enforcement

“Koreans eat tteok-guk, a soup made with beef bone broth and sliced rice cakes to mark Lunar New Year. In Korean culture, people add a year to their age on New Year’s Day rather than on their birthday. People believe you are one year older only if you finish eating tteokguk.”

“With my parents living in Korea, I celebrate the holiday here in New Zealand with my partner and sister. I make tteok-guk but take a shortcut by using store-bought broth from a Korean grocery store and simply adding rice cakes, minced garlic and garnishing it with spring onion, eggs and dried seaweed.”

How to say Happy New Year in Korean: Saehae bok mani badeuseyo


How Lunar New Year is celebrated in Vietnamese culture

Jason Nguyen - Systems Support Specialist, Digital Services

“Lunar New Year in Vietnam is known as Tet which is a time for reuniting with family over big dinner parties. In Vietnam, people will visit different families’ houses and children will receive red envelopes with money from their older relatives.”

“My immediate family in New Zealand try to keep the traditions going. The celebrations we have here are somewhat less traditional than the festivities my extended family enjoy in Vietnam, but we still have a big family feast. Mum does the cooking and we give red pockets to the children.”

How to say Happy New Year in Vietnamese: Chúc mừng năm mới