Vietnam: Biblical Perspectives on Lunar New Year
Lunar year 2023 is a year of the Cat on the Vietnamese Zodiac, from January 23rd, 2023 to February 9, 2024. Cat is the fourth sign in the Vietnamese Zodiac, taking place of the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac.
Celebrating lunar new year is to maintain ethnic identity. It is the most important point on the Lunar Calendar. It has symbolized the act of starting over with renewed hopes for happiness and prosperity. It is also a time to renew ties with family and friends, through family reunion dinners and social visits.
The celebration was traditionally marked by a religious ceremony in honor of Heaven and Earth, the household gods, and ancestors, Vietnamese Christians will celebrate the event from the perspective of their faith in Christ.
Christian interpretations have been given to many of the traditional symbols associated with Lunar New Year:
House-cleaning: It is a good time for Christians to evaluate their lives in light of their commitment to Christ.
Spring couplets: The traditional practice of displaying couplets or pairs of auspicious characters at the doorways is reintroduced among Christians by putting up Christian messages.
New clothes: This can be an opportunity for giving thanks for God’s abundant provisions (Rom 5:17).
Feasting: While over-indulging these few days, remember that our body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit”, so do not abuse it. Also remember the Christian virtue of hospitality, especially for those less fortunate.
Oranges: Oranges are exchanged as a blessing for prosperity, because the Cantonese word for “orange” sounds like gold. Christians are reminded that gold also symbolizes a genuine faith (1 Pet 1:7).