February 1 was the first day of the Lunar New Year, signaling the end of winter and the beginning of long-awaited spring, according to the lunar calendar. It kicked off a two-week celebration observed by Asians around the world, and 2022 is the Year of the Tiger, which is particularly meaningful for my wife and me. With 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, each animal repeats every 12 years. Our older son, who is turning 12 this year, is a Tiger. It truly seems like yesterday that he was born, and we were sleep-deprived first-time parents, so commemorating another Year of the Tiger is a bittersweet reminder of just how fast time is flying by.
For us, the Lunar New Year has always been a time to gather with loved ones, reset, and start fresh. Although our extended family lives far away, we make sure to celebrate together virtually. As first-generation immigrants, it’s really important for us to preserve and observe the longstanding traditions (and sometimes superstitions) that mark the Lunar New Year with our two sons. As is the custom, we typically spend the last days of the old year preparing for the new one by cleaning and decluttering our home, so we can start with a clean slate and make room to welcome good fortune in the coming year. It’s also a great opportunity to mentally recharge and bid farewell to the prior year, which has been especially important over the last couple of years, given the challenges we’ve all endured. And, during the first few days of the New Year, it’s also customary not to sweep, cut hair, or wash clothes, so as not to eliminate any of the good luck ushered in at the start of the year.
Those who know me know how much I love to eat. Lunar New Year is also a time to feast on some of my favorite foods, including longevity noodles (which symbolize happiness and long life) and TangYuan (a dessert of sweet rice balls that signify family togetherness). Our family usually heads to Chinatown in New York City to enjoy the festivities and a delicious meal, and if we’re lucky, dancing lions will make an appearance in the restaurant where we’re dining to signal positive things for the year ahead. We also get together with friends to celebrate and of course, share lots of good food (did I mention I love to eat?).
Kids love this time of year. In addition to the spectacles, another tradition is for adults to hand out red envelopes of money to children. This small gesture is not about the money, but rather about the envelope itself and the good intentions that come with it. Since red is considered a lucky color that protects against misfortune, it’s a way to share wishes for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. I remember looking forward to this as a child, and we keep this tradition alive for our sons and for the children of our family and friends. In fact, I used to walk around the fourth floor in the New York Life Home Office’s South Building at the start of the Lunar New Year and surprise unsuspecting co-workers with lucky red envelopes for their kids. This was a very special way for me to share well wishes with colleagues, and it’s something I’ve really missed while working remotely.
As I look ahead with hope for the new year, I feel encouraged and excited about the possibilities and opportunities in front of us. On behalf of my family and me, I wish you and your loved ones a year filled with joy, health, peace, and success.
-Dylan Huang, Senior Vice President and Head of Retirement & Wealth Management Solutions at New York Life.
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