Celebrations Begin for Lunar New Year 2017, the Year of the Rooster

Guest Blog By: Each Mind Matters Chinese American Workgroup*

Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is on January 28 this year, the year of the rooster. On this day, the Chinese community will practice the power of positive thinking as they greet each other with well wishes and a cheerful Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is the grandest and the most important annual event for the Chinese community. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The first day of the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20.

The Chinese New Year traditions have more than 4,000 years of history and gained significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. But as new practices and activities take place, some old traditions fade away.

At the start of a Lunar New Year, families will take their daily practices as predictive signs for the coming year. Many words like “death”, “broken”, “ghost” and “illness” are forbidden during conversations. Crying, washing, lending and taking medicine are also considered unlucky.

Chinese Americans think of health and wellness in terms of balance. Everything — physical, emotional, mental and spiritual — is connected. Mental illness is usually seen as attributable to external factors, such as evil spirits or wrongdoing, and can create a disconnection. Many look to traditions like Chinese New Year to help find balance again and make a fresh start. The New Year can directly benefit mental wellness through social support, as it is an occasion for Chinese families to gather and spend time together.

Chinese Americans are among the least likely group to seek help for mental health problems due to social stigma, shame, blame and saving face. Mental health challenges are often resolved by consulting spiritual leaders or they are ignored altogether.

Each Mind Matters provides great mental health outreach resources for the Chinese community. One resource is a new mental wellness brochure available in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese. This outreach tool is now available online. Click here to download the material. For additional resources and support on Each Mind Matters, click here.

Chinese American Workgroup

The following Chinese workgroup members representing the Chinese community across California, supported with the development of the mental health brochure for the Chinese community. Workgroup members included Larry Yang, Columbia University Medical Center/PEERS Consultant; Valerie Jackson, PEERS Consultant; Gladys Lee, LCSW Consultant and former Director of Asian Pacific Family Center; Diana Wong, Chinatown Child Development Center; Colleen Wong, Southeast Child Family Therapy Center; Paul Lam, Sunset Mental Health Services; Mary Ninh, Asian Pacific Community Counseling Transcultural Wellness Center. Workgroup members provided insight and support into the development of the content. Community based organizations Asian Pacific Aids Intrvntn (APAIT) and Chinese Community Health Resource Center (CCHRC) provide support in the final execution of the brochure from translations to adaptation and hosting community focus groups.

*Guest blog: Each Mind Matters provides a platform for open dialogue and varying perspectives about mental health. The opinions of the author of guest blogs don’t necessarily reflect those of Each Mind Matters. If you have questions or comments about a blog written by a guest writer we encourage you to continue the discussion with the author by contacting the organization listed in the bio.

For related content: Chinese American Stigma Reduction Project