Does the Lunar New Year Make You Sad Too?

I am currently in the midst of Lunar New Year celebrations for the Year of the Rat. This means food, drinks, gatherings with family and friends, and loud noises alerting me that my neighbours literally have money to burn. Right as I'm typing this, I can hear the clanging drums and cymbals of lion dances.

The Lunar New Year celebrations are an important part of my culture, one that we plan for months in advance. Everyone else on the planet - well, everyone else who is respectful of other peoples' cultures at least - is aware of the cultural significance of these few days.

These are significant dates that are centered on family, rest, and preparing for the start of the new year. From the all-important reunion dinner on the Eve right to the 15th day of the New Year, these are important cultural obligations that I have taken part in since the beginning of my life, with a few exceptions.


Once, I missed the celebrations because I was studying overseas. White people university does not care if your cultural festivities fall in the middle of February, your semester is going to start anyway.

Last year, and in several other years, I was not "allowed" to celebrate. After the death of a close family member, you are supposed to mourn them and not partake in the Lunar New Year celebrations of the following year.

Lunar New Year was quite the muted affair last year, but naturally, I was not in the mood to celebrate anyway.

This year, I am "allowed" to celebrate again, but...

I am still not in the mood to celebrate.

I have lost a lot of the enthusiasm I used to have for Lunar New Year as a child or a teenager. While I do think it's important to observe certain rituals i.e. attending family meals on Eve and the first day/ buying new clothes for the Lunar New Year (... ahem), I have stopped doing a lot of things that I used to do for Lunar New Year.

Take, for example, decorating the house or buying tons of snacks to welcome guests. I don't even have snacks I like FOR MYSELF this year. They're all too expensive.

In general, my family has also lost enthusiasm for the festival.

In the past, it was not uncommon for us to meet daily for a week straight for past celebrations. I once had to put my foot down because it was just days after days of heavy meals that we could not even finish.

This year, the celebrations were limited to 2.5 days, and since then it was basically just me living my normal life since then. You know, stressed by work and stupid people, the usual.

There may be a couple more occasions where I participate in Lunar New Year-related celebrations in 2020, but suffice to say the Lunar New Years of my adulthood are far subpar to the Lunar New Years of my childhood.

This year I even had to  WORK ON LUNAR NEW YEAR EVE right after the reunion dinner, so yes, it was subpar from the start already.

Some things remain the same, like gathering with family members to eat a lot of food.

Other things change and will never come back again, like the loss of family members you would have made huge effort to celebrate with them before.

Right now, the Lunar New Year is just a reminder of how time is passing by too quickly. It used to be filled with hopes for a better year ahead.

Yet now the Lunar New Year period is now a bittersweet length of time in which I constantly feel I should have done more by now but haven't yet (fun), and also one where I constantly remember people who have left.

Making the entirety of Lunar New Year "fun" takes effort that I no longer have in me to give for too long. Not that I ever had much effort in the first place, anyway,

The most effort I had this year was picking out one new clothing item for the first day of Lunar New Year. I used to make sure it was all new from head to toe, but now...

Yep, that's me pretending that I don't live in a tropical country. 

I used to be so excited when the Lunar New Year came - endless snacking and lots of red packets to get, what's not to be happy about - yet now it's not something that fills me with joy anymore. It hasn't filled me with joy for several years already. A lot of Lunar New Year preparations were chores accompanied by nagging. There's nothing joyful about that.

On the other hand, melancholy attached to the Lunar New Year seems to have only grown stronger in the past couple of years. My conclusion is that these festivities make me a little sad now when they come around.

"WELCOME TO ADULTHOOD", my brain screams.

I think the only people I know who are "desperate" to make Lunar New Year fun these days are parents with young children, because they have to keep the "magic" alive somehow. It makes me appreciate my memories of my childhood Lunar New Year celebrations that bit more, because effort went into them to make me remember them as special.

I am now the one who has to make an effort to make the Lunar New Year fun for me, but I do not know where that effort went this year. Maybe it doesn't even exist in the first place.


While social media is still filled with content on gambling, feasts, lion dances, and the like at the moment, my Lunar New Year-related festivities have paused at Day 2 already.

Just as some aspects of the Lunar New Year bring me joy, other aspects make me sad as well. This year seems to be another one where apathy and melancholy is more noticeable than the joyful aspects.

I mean, world news is not helping. From Australian bushfires to the downing of a Ukrainian plane in Iran to the coronavirus, 2020 is not exactly off to a great start either, which affects the mood at this time.

That being said, hope springs eternal. Obviously I still hope for the best from the year, even if I am unenthusiastic about its start.

Let's hope that the year will bring more joys than sadness, at least.

To you who are reading this, Happy Lunar New Year to you, and may the Year of the Rat bring you what you need.