Lunar New Year 2023 began on Sunday, January 22nd. As part of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program, WWT has seven employee resource groups focused on strengthening our workforce, business, and community outcomes. Part of that focus includes cultural education and celebration. Ohana, WWT's Asian and Pacific Islander employee resource group (ERG), will host live and virtual Lunar New Year events in many of our offices around the globe. Celebrations will include Lunar New Year traditions such as the reunion dinner and symbolic dishes and treats. One such symbolic dish is hot pot. Hot pot will be the focal point of WWT's Lunar New Year event which will be hosted for WWT employees and their families in-person and virtually on February 1st.

Also known as the Spring Festival, Lunar New Year is based on the first day of the Lunar calendar. 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit, and according to the Chinese Zodiac, those who are born this year will be kind, quick, goal-oriented, and attentive to detail.  Lunar New Year customs include reunion dinners, spending time with family and friends, fireworks, lion dances, wishing each other good luck and fortune, gifting red envelopes of money to children, and more. Celebrations last 15 days, culminating with the lantern festival on February 5th.    

In celebration of Lunar New Year, two of WWT's employees reflect on the tradition of hot pot in their families and community. David Zhang is an analyst and Jing Zhang is a consultant. Both work on the Business & Analytics Advisors (BAA) team, and both live St. Louis.  

What is the cultural significance of hot pot? 

Originating in China, hotpot has a long history and is widely accepted in many Asian counties. Hot pot brings warmth to people during the cold winter. The act of cooking and sharing food together is used to strengthen relationships with others.  

Hot pot is often enjoyed as a way for families and friends to gather and bond over a shared pot. Hot pot is deeply ingrained in the Asian culture as a symbol of warmth, unity, and a reminder of the comfort and joy that shared meals can bring.

What is hot pot and how is it prepared?

Hot pot is a popular way of dining during winter. It is a type of communal dining experience and the perfect way to gather with friends and family, as everyone gets to participate in the meal preparation.  

The hot pot itself is a large simmering pot of broth. The main ingredients that are cooked in the broth are typically meats, seafood, or vegetables. One of the best parts of the hotpot experience is the variety of dipping sauces that are made from soy sauce, sesame oil, and various seasonings, allowing each person to customize their meal.

What does hot pot mean to you?

For me, hot pot is a magic word which symbolizes happiness. When I was young, it always cheered me up to have hot pot with my family during the holidays, especially the winter holidays because it helped us warm up.

Hot pot became more meaningful to me when I studied in Chengdu, Sichuan, which is regarded as the home of hot pot. People in Chengdu take hot pot as their daily treat, just like coffee for Italian people. My classmates would go to the hot pot place around the corner of our campus to celebrate the new semester or when they submitted schoolwork. What's more, most hot pot restaurants in Chengdu are open all night so we used to eat hot pot at midnight. What a youthful time!

How is hot pot related to Lunar New Year?

Hot pot has been a tradition in China for over 1900 years.  It is widely accepted by most people in China because it is easy to make.  It usually comes with two sides, spicy and non-spicy, so everyone can enjoy it.  

When thinking of hot pot, people associate positive words like unity and harmony, which align well with the culture of Lunar New Year.  On the eve of Lunar New Year, family will sit around a steaming hot pot, chatting and drinking, enjoying delicious food and family gathering time. It is a loving picture in the heart of many Chinese people.