February 19, 2021
Photo Courtesy of ASU instagram: @atholtonasu
Xin (seen) nian (nee-an) kuai (koo-why) le (luh)！ 新年快乐！– This is the Chinese phrase for “Happy New Year!” It literally translates to “New Year Happy!” The celebration of the Lunar New Year is usually celebrated with lion and dragon dances, fireworks, hanging spring couplets on doors, eating dumplings with loved ones and gifting money to family members in red envelopes knowns as hong bao 红包 as a way to say “I enjoy having you in my daily life.” This year, however, the celebration may look a little different.
Lunar New Year is usually celebrated globally on the first day of the first month on the lunar calendar. It usually falls between late January and mid February. This year, Lunar New Year was celebrated on February 12. Due to the pandemic, Lunar New Year celebrations have been moved online. Atholton’s own Asian Student Union is hosting one such event on Sunday, February 21, and will be hosted on Zoom. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP beforehand.
“Lunar New Year is such a fundamental aspect of many people’s cultures, including a lot of students at Atholton and a lot of people don’t realize it, so we really want to educate people about these traditional customs as well as provide a good opportunity to enjoy them,” said Stephanie Wang, Vice President of Asian Student Union.
If you are considering attending Asian Student Union’s Lunar New Year celebration, it may be fun to participate in Chinese traditional customs like wearing red clothes. The Asian Student Union club will be holding contests to spread awareness of Asian culture, and winners will be rewarded with $25 prizes. The four categories include Visual Art, Music, Writing, and Cooking, and entries will be displayed in a slideshow. Traditional Asian foods that may make an appearance include dumplings, noodles, and fish, which are all thought to bring good luck. Attendees get to vote on which submissions they want to win. There will also be a Kahoot.
The story of Lunar New Year is set in ancient times, and follows a monster named Nian. On the first day of the year, he would terrorize the villages of China, destroying everything in his path. One day, the villagers decided to scare Nian off, so they wore clothing in the color that he was afraid of: red. Nian was also scared of loud noises, so the Chinese villagers set off firecrackers and fireworks. Upon seeing all of the red and hearing all of the thunderous fireworks, Nian fled. From then on, Lunar New Year has been celebrated by repeating the traditions of old as a fun way of warding Nian off and celebrating the beginning of a new year.
Despite these beautiful tales of triumph in Asian culture, recent events surrounding the Asian American community have been less celebratory. There has been an increase in discrimination against Asian Amerians because of the pandemic, which is why an event celebrating Asian culture can be truly powerful.
Wang explained that because of these horrific acts, this event celebrating Lunar New Year could work to “educate and show people that our race isn’t just the stereotypes and our culture is much deeper than what most people usually see on the outside.”
Not only is this event a great way to learn more about Asian culture and the meaning of Lunar New Year, but it can really bring the Atholton community together. Wang stated that she “hope(s) participants will be able to appreciate and learn from my culture a little more and understand its customs and values. Additionally, I really want every participant to enjoy and truly experience the amazing culture!”