Experiencing the Lunar New Year in Southeast Asia

Written by a Cafe 1040 Student

 Our team has been fortunate enough to landed in Southeast Asia during the celebration of Lunar New Year. This is a holiday in Southeast Asia that is largely celebrated through the Buddhist and Animist practices that are so ingrained in the culture and majority population here. During this holiday schools close, businesses shut down, and everyone returns home to ring in the New Year with family and friends.

 Celebrations took over base town and for a few days it could have easily been mistaken for a ghost town had the sound of karaoke parties and the smell of rice and pork not been floating through the air.

 From the outside, the New Year could appear as simply a time of parties and fireworks and really good food, however there is a heaviness in the air which cannot be denied. Altars set to welcome dead relatives home clutter the streets and the smoke of incense cloud the entrance to any shop that is still open. This is a part of Animism, the practice of worshiping one’s ancestors.

In order for a family to go into the New Year with an abundance of luck and to ensure peace and prosperity, the eldest male of every family offers incense, food, and a burnt paper offering like clothes and money to their dead family members.

 On the way to watch the fireworks on New Years Eve my team and I pass an elaborate altar on our street in front of which a man and his son are burning paper sacrifices. My heart breaks as I recognize the darkness in which this city lives. Please continue to pray with me for the souls of the locals and the brokenness plaguing a people who literally burn sacrifices to and bows down before false idols.