The Scarlet Scroll

Lunar New Year celebrations commemorate Asian-American traditions

Ryan Nguyen

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AUTHENTIC ACTIVITIES: Students were able to participate in many Lunar New Year inspired games in Shamrock Plaza like gambling with candy and learning calligraphy.

“Chúc Mừng Năm Mới,” “农历新年快乐,” “Kyū shōgatsu,” and “akemashite omedetō gozaimasu.” These are just a few examples of how some Asian cultures say, “Happy Lunar New Year!”

Lunar New Year, celebrated this year on Feb. 16, is a traditional holiday celebrated by many Asian Americans at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Each year, a different animal is celebrated in the Chinese zodiac. For this year, those born under 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982,1994, 2006, and 2018 are represented by the Year of the Dog.

For many Asian-Americans students, Lunar New Year is an important tradition to their culture. Many decorations, such as lanterns, door couplets, kumquat trees, and blooming flowers, are put up at home to make the area more festive and prosperous. According to Reader’s Digest, red lanterns are used as decorations to protect homes from bad luck. In addition, money is often exchanged between children and elders in red envelopes, symbolizing a year of wealth, happiness, and success. At home, families and other individuals often clean their houses, pay their taxes, and celebrate by gathering at mass or having a big meal.

“First, my family gets together from different places and [we] have a big meal,” freshman Linda He, who is an international student from Jiangsu, China, said. “We also watch a really big night show. Do you know the Super Bowl for American people? That [night] show for Chinese people is even more important [because] everyone watches [it].” 

International students at Mater Dei like He are not always able to travel home for Lunar New Year, so they find different ways to continue the traditions of this holiday, including on campus.

World Languages teacher Zeyda Marsh was one teacher who incorporated the traditions of Lunar New Year in her class. With Lunar New Year falling on a Friday this year, Marsh had a celebration in her Chinese class. Students were learned how to write in calligraphy the chinese character, , or fortune, make Chinese paper lanterns, and cut a paper version of the Chinese character for “spring.” Foods like tea, cookies, and chocolates shaped like gold coins were given for celebration and good luck.

“I think it’s important to make [international students] feel at home as a host school and also to teach the rest of our community out there about the importance of this tradition,” Marsh said.

Besides celebrating Lunar New Year in class, there was also a celebration hosted by Asian American clubs in the Shamrock Plaza that commemorated the tradition. Students could “gamble” with candy, witness a K9 do some tricks with the Santa Ana Police Department, buy some boba from Team NEGU, and participate in many cultural Chinese and Vietnamese games during lunch. Some students even dressed up in traditional Vietnamese dresses called ao dai.

Senior ASB President Christine Nguyen also partook in celebrations by wearing a dog onesie with her fellow ASB officers and spreading the good luck and happiness of Lunar New Year.

“I hope people were able to become more aware and to be more knowledgeable about different types of cultures,” Nguyen said. “I think overall the student population really did like it because we did do a lot of different fun things for them. But, I personally hope that it was a new perspective and a new way for students to see something new.”

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