Feb 06, 2020

East meets West at PPL’s Lunar New Year celebration

Can you answer these questions correctly?

What is the Chinese zodiac sign for 2020? What determines the Lunar New Year date? What does the name China mean? Why is cleaning and tidying the home a popular Lunar New Year tradition?

PPL employees answered these questions and more in an interactive 30-question trivia contest about Asian cuisine, geography and culture on Jan. 28 during a Lunar New Year celebration hosted by PPL’s Asian Connection for Employees (ACE) business resource group. Read on to find the answers to the questions above.

The soothing sounds of traditional Asian music filled the air as PPL employees savored the exotic flavors of chicken and beef curry, dumplings, sushi and other Asian delicacies.

ACE members, some dressed in traditional Asian garb, taught employees about Lunar New Year, which is celebrated in several Asian countries including Vietnam, Mongolia and China, which means “Middle Kingdom.” The celebration begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends 15 days later on the first full moon. The Lunar New Year date is determined by the second new moon after the winter solstice and typically falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This year’s Lunar New Year date was Jan. 25. Celebrations will last until Feb. 8.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, this is the year of the rat, which is associated with wealth and high fertility. People born in the year of the rat are believed to be optimistic and likable. The Chinese Zodiac is a 12-year cycle, with an animal representing each year. The cycle goes in this order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

ACE members described Lunar New Year traditions such as tidying the home to remove any bad luck that might be lingering inside; decorating homes and businesses with bright red paper and cloth adornments; taking part in lion dances, which feature performers in lion costumes mimicking the moves of the large, muscular cats; and shooting off fireworks as a way to scare off evil spirits. Families also gather on Lunar New Year’s Eve for a reunion dinner – a meal that often consists of fish.

Each attendee received a red envelope – another Lunar New Year tradition. While these are often filled with money by senior family members and given to younger ones on Lunar New Year’s Day, PPL employees received a homemade craft, such as a tiny paper shirt with dragon imprints, inside.

Employees raved about the event and the ACE members were just as thrilled to have the opportunity to share their traditions with co-workers.

“It’s important to have these types of celebrations not only at home, but at the workplace,” said Sushan Zheng, ACE president and senior technology translator for PPL Electric Utilities. “It’s all about awareness and celebrating our culture. It supports our message to retain diverse talent at PPL.”

For the past few years in January, ACE members have decorated tables with Asian trinkets and handed out information about the Lunar New Year and Asian culture to employees. The tables became so popular that the group decided to host its first Lunar New Year celebration this year.

“If it’s your holiday, it’s great to have it recognized. And for those who don’t celebrate it, it’s a great way to educate them about it,” said Maria Cherichella, an ACE member and director of compensation and benefits for PPL Corporation.