Have a date outside of your culture it’s all fun and games until you have to explain to your partner why you’re stuffing a dirty penny inside a ball of dough or wearing a red thong in the middle of January. Let’s face it: Lunar New Year is full of traditions that, unless you grew up in an Asian household, can be hard to articulate.
My mom is Chinese and my dad is Mexican, so he had a lot to learn about my mom’s culture (and vice versa). As a queer man living in one of the most diverse cities in the world, there have been many times when I have dated people of color outside of my own culture and also had to teach them how to celebrate Lunar New Year. . Unfortunately, since I can’t hold a man down, I’ve had to spiel every year, and I’m starting to get tired.
On top of that, Lunar New Year can feel isolating. It’s a holiday associated with so many fond memories of family and home, and it can be hard to feel like no one around you cares much. Worse still is when your partner doesn’t remember it’s Lunar New Year and you have to passive-aggressively remind them. So those lucky enough to be dating bad asians who celebrate LNY, I decided to make your life easier. This is my advice, as well as that of some friends, on what you can do with or for her partner to show her that you care about the holiday.
Go out for dumplings together, or better yet, make them at home.
Lunar New Year traditions vary widely across the diaspora, with the holiday celebrated in China, South Korea, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries. But for many households, there’s one constant: meatballs. I’m not just talking about a plate of 10 or more meatballs, which would probably be a regular amount for a normal day. I’m talking about an excessive, limit-glutton number of meatballs
Just as many Americans can remember eating too much turkey or macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving, we have memories of bursting the seams on Lunar New Year from eat too many dumplings. So making new memories together can be a thoughtful gesture.
Surprise them wearing red underwear
This is one detail that would definitely bring a smile to your partner’s face. Wearing red underwear is not only sexy, but it also shows that you are paying attention to the smallest details. When we were little, my mom always made sure we wore red underwear to maximize good luck and fortune In the new year. Now that we’re adults, the tradition takes on a fun new form.
Do not buy Traditional clothing without consulting them first
If you were thinking of wearing a qipao or any other traditional Asian clothing to celebrate, it’s best to ask your partner how they feel about it before doing so.
“If it’s appropriate, ask them to help you find the right outfit,” Liliana Rasmussen, a half-Chinese friend, tells me. “And remember, it’s always better to ask than to assume.”
Wearing traditional clothing without asking your partner can be a big turn off. They themselves may have no connection to that part of their culture, so it could end up making them feel fetishized or alienated.
Give them a red envelope (with literally anything in it)
No Lunar New Year would seem complete to me without receiving a red envelope. Usually the extended family would give us red bags full of money. I know what you’re thinking: In this economy?
Times are tough and inflation has reached apocalyptic proportions, so if you can’t afford to get the Benjamins out, you might as well put something else in there, like a gift card, concert or plane ticket, or something they can use. and that feels intentional. It’s the act of receiving a red bag and opening it that feels special, more than the cash itself. You can buy the red bags in your nearest Chinatown if you live in a big city or in Amazon.
Deep clean your home
This is self-explanatory on any given day, but this suggestion, courtesy of my friend Amy Zheng, who runs an Asian American and Pacific Islander collective called Baesians — is especially significant during Lunar New Year. That’s because you’re supposed to have a clean house to rid your space of bad luck.
do not handle anything
Sure, you’ve well-meaningly researched the interwebs on Lunar New Year, and you want to apply all that knowledge to your boo. I’ll give you a pat on the back right now, virtually. But the worst thing you can do is tell them that their way of celebrating is “wrong” or doesn’t conform to the more traditional way of doing things.
“As people of the Asian diaspora, many of us experience disconnection from our ancient cultures and traditions. So maybe keep in mind that for your partner, ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ participation in traditions can be a touchy subject, as for many of us, our language knowledge or ability is limited,” Vincent Chong, a friend in the Brooklyn borough of New York. , he tells me. “Especially as queer and trans diaspora and mixed people, tradition doesn’t leave us much room. So we have to be actively building a new culture where we exist. There really isn’t a roadmap.”
Christopher Chin, who lives in New York, feels the same way about how alienated some of us can feel from the holiday. “Not everyone who celebrates LNY here in the US has the privilege of understanding or being connected to the cultural significance of many of the traditions,” Chin tells me. “One tip is to remember to center your partner and be aware that there can be a variety of ways people feel about celebrating.”
This advice is pretty consistent across the board. Feeling like your partner is genuinely curious about you and your personal traditions makes you feel good, according to my mom.
Again, keep in mind that the Asian diaspora is huge and extremely complex, with each household having its own way of doing things. Sometimes we make things up, and that’s okay. Don’t question the validity of the way your partner celebrates the holiday because it is authentic by virtue of being yours.