Usually when people say the term “Winter holidays,” we naturally think think of Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve, and maybe even Valentine’s Day. Well, I’m here to tell you about two more: The Lunar New Year and Carnival. 

First up, we have the Lunar New Year. You may know it by its more common name, Chinese New Year, though that name isn’t entirely accurate. Many Asian nations celebrate this holiday, so giving it just to China seems a bit odd. Like the name implies, the Lunar New Year is celebrated when a new year arrives, based on the phases of the moon. So, instead of having a set date like the Western New Year, it varies every year. This year, celebrations have been taking place from February 14th to February 19th.

But how do people celebrate it? Well, it varies a bit, but I’m going to give you information of the cultures I know the best: China and Vietnam. In both countries, one eats lots of food, wears red for luck, celebrates with family, and receives the ever so popular red envelopes. Why are the envelopes popular, you ask? Well, because they have money in them! They’re given to children and unmarried women. The celebration is also a bit like a large birthday party, because though individual birthdays are becoming acknowledged, it’s a tradition in both cultures for everyone to turn a year older during the start of the new year. Want to wish someone a Happy New Year? If you’re speaking to someone in China, say “新年快乐” (pronounced shin nian kuai le). If you’d prefer Vietnamese, say “chúc mừng năm mời”!

A poster for a Lunar New Year party I hosted at my school. The amazing example of a Chinese lantern was drawn by a friend of mine.

A poster for a Lunar New Year party I hosted at my school. The amazing example of a Chinese lantern was drawn by a friend of mine.

The other holiday I wish to discuss is pretty well known (except in the United States, for reasons unbeknownst to me): Carnival. Carnival is basically a time of celebration and excess, in preparation for the month of Lent, all leading up to the craziest day of the year: Fat Tuesday, aka Shrove Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, aka Pancake Day. Carnival is celebrated with costumes, parades, and good food. Though never having experienced one myself, I’d certainly like to, and the pictures I’ve seen are breathtaking. Revelers dress in elaborate costumes and party. In some countries, such as Spain and Italy, there are orange throwing competitions, where people of all ages form teams and, you guessed it, pelt oranges at each other. It sounds like an amazing time.

A Venetian style mask I own, similar to those worn by revelers during Carnival.

A Venetian style mask I own, similar to those worn by revelers during Carnival.

So, do you celebrate either of those holidays? What are your winter time traditions or favorite holidays? Let me know in a comment!


Around the World is a feature about global geekery, exploring other cultures, and much more. To submit a post idea, simply leave a comment!