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Happy Lunar New Year!

Posted on February 12 2021

Happy Lunar New Year! This Friday, February 12th, is the Lunar New Year celebrating the upcoming year of the Ox. Although many celebrations are being toned down this year due to the pandemic, it is still a good day to celebrate.

What is Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year, as the name implies, is the new year based on the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is determined by the cycles of the moon, so the dates vary a little with the Western calendar. While Japan also uses the Western calendar, it is common to celebrate Lunar New Year in certain areas of Japan due to the pervasive influence of Chinese culture. So even if it is not officially celebrated in Japan, there are still some traditions that persist, and the twelve animals of the zodiac are pretty common knowledge.

What’s the story behind the animals of the zodiac?

One of the most common stories of how the animals were chosen for the calendar is the Grand Race. The ox, following behind the rat in the zodiac, is known to be kind, strong, and sincere. At the end of this grand race was a river that the animals had to cross in order to reach the finish line. The rat, clever as he was, knew that the ox was a great swimmer and honest to a fault. The rat implored the ox to carry him on his head across the river. The ox, a somewhat gullible character, agreed. As the tale goes, when they neared the finish line, the rat jumped off the ox’s head and crossed the finish line first. This is one of the reasons the rat is known as cunning, while the ox is almost its antithesis as a symbol of diligence. Nevertheless, the ox still made it across the finish line as well, becoming the second animal in the Chinese New Year.

So with this coming Lunar New Year, get ready to celebrate the kind, straightforward ox! Many Japanese beauty brands are coming out with limited edition Lunar New Year products, such as SKII (who came out with special red and gold packaging for their famous Pitera Essence) and Shu Uemura (who came out with a collection of “iron red” lipsticks).

One more question: why red?

Everyone knows that red is an auspicious color in Chinese tradition, but what does it actually mean and how does it relate to Japan? Red is actually a symbol of good fortune and joy. It is associated with prosperity, seen in the red envelopes given from elders to children on Chinese New Year, which is a tradition many families also do in Japan during the January 1st New Year, known as otoshidama.

As previously implied, red is also an important color in Japanese culture. Red is a prominent traditional color alongside the color white, constituting the Japanese flag. It is a symbol of protection and power and is commonly seen on Shinto shrine gates known as torii. This particular red, called akani, protects against rust due to the cinnabar mercury component, and is also believed to protect the shrine from evil and disaster. It is also thought to increase the power of the Shinto gods residing in the shrine, or the kami. It also has a place in traditional Japanese beauty, and was a very popular lip shade even before lipstick came around! Noble women are known to have used safflowers to color their lips, and this flower is still used today to make traditional Japanese lipsticks.

I want to have red lips for Lunar New Year!

So let’s be stylish and lucky for the Lunar New Year with red lips! At Cosme Hunt, we’ve got you covered with red pigments that will not only tint your lips, but also contain ingredients to treat and protect against the winter weather. Lip treatments that tint the lips have been my go-to during this mask era. For those moments you do take off your mask, such as during online meetings or when outside and properly socially distanced, I think taking the time to treat and tint the lips is still important. Let’s model the conscientious ox and continue to take care of our lips!

OPERA Lip Tint N (Red) available at Cosme Hunt

Try this lip tint from OPERA in a classic red shade that will have you feeling lucky before, during, and long after the Lunar New Year. This lip tint not only colors the lips with a glossy finish, but also hydrates the lips and helps them retain moisture (which we all know we need during this era of the mask). OPERA lip tints are quite famous right now, which we’ve already talked about here!

Plump Pink Melty Lip Serum #203 (Sexy Red) available at Cosme Hunt

I find the name of this shade a bit funny, but cannot deny the seductive allure of deep red lips. In Japan, using a bordeaux shade of eyeliner is actually trending to create more mature, sultry looks. Finish it off with this lip serum from Plump Pink that will tint, moisturize, and plump your lips!

OPERA Lip Tint N (Pink Red) available at Cosme Hunt

Feel that you aren’t quite ready to rock a statement red lip? Maybe you wanna feel more cute than alluring? That’s totally ok! This pink red lip tint from OPERA has all the benefits of the red OPERA lip tint shown previously, all in a more sweet and youthful shade.

Wishing you a Happy Lunar New Year!

I actually learned about the story behind the animal zodiac back in junior high school. One of the languages offered at my school was Mandarin, and so when taking that class, one of our assignments included reading and writing about the story of the Grand Race (which has become one of the only things I remember from that class). Though I am not Chinese myself, it does make a bit of a difference when you wish Happy Lunar New Year to your friends that do celebrate it. I think that 2021 being the year of the ox is quite fitting for this era and all that we have been through. With just a little more patience and diligence emulated by the ox, there will come a day when we can go out and have large new year celebrations once again. Have a happy Lunar New Year!

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 Megan Carulla

A university student by day, a skincare enthusiast by night! After falling down the skincare rabbit hole, Megan has been an avid follower of Japanese beauty ever since her high school days. Having dry, sensitive skin, she spends just as much time looking up trends as she does looking up ingredient information. When she’s not sheet masking, Megan likes to take long walks and dance with her mini goldendoodle, Momo.

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