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We Celebrate Your Whole Selves: That’s What Makes The Magic

People are at the heart of who we are. Our aim is to transform the lives of those we touch without prejudice or discrimination. At Lucid, the magic we create relies on harnessing the unique, diverse and individual talents of those we work with. We strive to ensure that each person is empowered to bring their whole self to work so we can be fully inclusive and collaborate with a full heart – fulfilling the potential of everything we do and everyone we work with. Equally.

Today is the start of the Lunar New Year (LNY); a celebration that is close to the hearts of many at Lucid Group. Anh Pham, Account Manager, Lucid Group, shares her experiences and love of the LNY celebrations – a holiday about family, food and good fortune:

While bigger holidays in the western countries are often associated with Christmas/Hanukkah leading to New Year’s Eve, the LNY is one of the most anticipated celebratory events in several Asian countries, with its origin dating back to 1600–1046 BC.

This celebration marks the start of the Lunisolar calendar, which is a variable date around January/February depending on the appearance of the new moon. This year the LNY is falling on 12 February kicking-off the year of the Ox. Yes, that’s right, each LNY is represented by a zodiac sign with a reoccurrence every 12 years.

- There are twelve animals forming the Zodiac in the order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit (or Cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Folklore says that the Emperor of the time announced a race where the order of the twelve animals shall be determined by their finishing time. The clever Rat knowing that no one could outrun the Ox has decided to ride on the Ox’s shoulder and hopped off shortly at the finish line to become the first animal in the Zodiac. The pig came in last because it was busy stopping for snacks and taking naps along the way. -

In Vietnam, and as far as I know in China as well, the LNY is actually the biggest celebration with literally 15 days of festivities. A week before the actual New Year’s Day, families are busy cleaning the house, preparing fermented radish or steaming green rice cakes, making sugar coated fruit candies, getting a new hairstyle, sewing new clothes, buying presents – many presents.

Having a deep cleaned house and a fridge full of food is very important during the festive season, not only because families will welcome a lot of guests during this time, but also because we believe in starting a new year completely fresh – as in a clean house with no stain.

Talking about the meaning of LNY with some team members, and we would all agree that the meaning of the celebration boils down to reunion, quality time with the beloved, and food! Food! Food!

For us with Asian heritage, growing up in the western world where LNY is not widely celebrated, this celebration is usually just a normal day. Some families would try to keep the tradition going by preparing a fruit plate with five types of fruits symbolising the gratitude to heaven, earth and ancestors – to wish for a prosperous year – or steaming a pair of square and rounded rice cakes which represent the harmony of earth (yin; square) and heaven (yang; round).

Ronce, a fellow Lucidian, and friend, shared with me that since living in the UK, even though his family doesn’t really celebrate the LNY, his mum would still make ‘Nian gao’, a glutinous rice cake that is considered to bring good luck when consuming during the LNY. That is because the word ‘Nian gao’ has the meaning of ‘raising oneself taller in each coming year’. If Ronce were to be in the Philippines, he would probably attend the traditional fiesta or parade.

To quote Georgie Chan, Account Director at Lucid Group,

“Chinese New Year is all about getting together with family. Not just your immediate family, but family members who you only see once a year because of this festive season, or who you might/might not even know existed. You will be surprised how many times I had been to a family gathering during Chinese New Year and had to ask my mother who certain people were.

Chinese New Year is also about food (lots of food) and red packets filled with cash, given to youngsters by their more matured relatives and friends. As long as I’m still on the ‘youth train’, Chinese New Year will remain one of my favourite holidays that’s not to be missed.”

Aside from the dishes, the LNY traditions include the Dragon Dance, red firecrackers and the gifting of red envelopes filled with money.

Traditionally, the Red Envelope is gifted from an elder to children, or anyone who’s unmarried. It’s said that gifting coins can ward off evil spirits. Both firecrackers and dragon dances are also meant to ward off monsters and bad spirits. One would think that kids love the tradition of receiving red envelopes the most, since all they need to do is wishing their elders a healthy life and a happy new year. However, speaking to ZhiZhi (another colleague and friend and Lucid), we both would remember fondly the smell of firecrackers and the red shredded paper filled streets.

To me, there is a satisfactory feeling in the minutes following the banging firecrackers sound, as if all bad things have been burnt and left behind and the coming Spring is bright and red.

In addition to fencing off bad spirits, there are also taboos and superstitions to attract good fortune and/or to avoid washing off good fortunes. I wonder if most of us truly believe in those, or if we are just keeping the tradition going by following those practices.

To give you a few examples:

  • Pay back any debts before the new year starts, or the bad luck will continue in the new year.
  • Avoid using scissors during the time of family togetherness as to sever those connections.
  • Doing laundry and washing your hair must wait after the third day of the new year, so as to not wash away wealth and luck.

Growing up in Germany, I did not have a lot of chances to celebrate the LNY the traditional way, but I do clearly remember the feeling during my childhood, back then, when meat was barely affordable, a cooked chicken for LNY was the most precious thing on the table. I remember sitting on the back of mum’s moped holding a gigantic red balloon and a watermelon triple the size of my head. I remember hearing the drums of dragon dancers everywhere and I particularly remember the red firecrackers hanging metres’ long in front of everyone’s house.

To me, LNY does not have to be pompous, does not require presents or new clothing.
It’s the gesture and love share that matters. Regardless of where and how it is celebrated, the essence of the LNY is to reconnect and share quality time with my family, with beloved friends; a time to remember my ancestors, to forget past troubles and strive for a better year.

Although most of the western countries call the LNY ‘Chinese New Year’, the holiday is celebrated across the Asia-Pacific region under various names. In Vietnam we call it Tết, in Korea it’s called Seollal (설날), and the Tibetan New Year is called Losar Festival. As member of the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Team, I wanted to raise awareness about this minor yet crucial difference.

Lucid’s positive commitment to D&I has meant I’ve felt encouraged and welcomed to talked about the upcoming LNY celebration. I hope to see many more people feeling empowered to share their experiences; it’s important to celebrate our whole selves: that’s what makes the magic!

12th February 2021

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