By Darren Loo, Jan. 31, 2023
Observed on Jan. 22, the Lunar New Year was celebrated by billions in countries across the world welcoming the Year of the Rabbit. Organizations on campus such as the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center took the opportunity to educate students about the importance of the celebration amidst the tragic events.
There are a number of Asian countries that observe Lunar New Year including China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and a few other Asian countries. Generally, people enjoy watching dragon dances, going to firework shows and exchanging red envelopes. However, there are some slight differences in traditions and culture from country to country.
Lily Liang, a social justice leader at the APISC, explained that a common misconception is that it is just Chinese New Year, but really, there are a number of Asian countries and communities that also celebrate Lunar New Year.
“There are a lot of similar traditions but also differences like for example, in China, it is the Year of the Rabbit, but in Vietnam, it is the Year of the Cat, so there are subtle differences like that, and each country has its own traditions and celebrations,” Liang said.
On Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival, most families travel to their hometowns and have a big family gathering where they have a big dinner with traditional dishes, do arts and crafts, tell stories, but most importantly, they spend time together. Some may also go to temples and do prayer services together.
Biology students Quyen Nguyen and Long Truong explained how some families celebrate Lunar New Year over multiple days, starting on the 23 of December on the Lunar Calendar. On the Dec. 23, some families hold a ceremony to worship the gods, then on Dec. 30, the last day of the year on the Lunar Calendar, families hold ceremonies to worship their ancestors and bring them back to celebrate the new year with their families.
On the first day of the lunar year, while some families go to temples to do a prayer service, others may go to other festivals or farmers markets. Some may also follow superstitions such as no cleaning the house on New Year’s Day orno haircuts on New Year’s Day, among several other superstitions .
The Cal Poly Pomona APISC and other student organizations also host several events throughout the Lunar New Year including the Lunar New Year Luncheon hosted by Centerpointe Dining and the Annual Lunar New Year Celebration hosted by the APISC. Numerous shows and performances are also curated and done by student organizations.
The APISC will be hosting its 20th Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 8, where there will be some themed activities,as well as food, explained Zachery Angeles, a social justice leader from the APISC. This event creates a sense of community and a place where people can bond and celebrate the new Lunar Year.
Typically, Lunar New Year is supposed to be a fun and happy time of celebration for the Asian community. This year, however, moments of peace and happiness were shattered after news broke about multiple mass shootings thattargeted the Asian American population.
The Monterey Park mass shooting, which happened on Jan. 21, and the Half Moon Bay shootings, which happened on Jan.23, have left huge marks on the celebration. The two mass shootings that left a total of 18 dead and 10 injured has affected many families and left many feeling unsafe in their hometowns.
“My prayers go out to anyone who was affected by the tragedies, anyone who has been affected by any emotional turmoil from these incidents and anyone who might not be feeling safe in their own communities,” Angeles said.
Student organizations and clubs are also holding events and spaces for people to reflect on these tragedies. The APISC held a space where students and members of the CPP community could go and voice their opinions and thoughts on these incidents.
“The APISC has also shown support to those affected by the recent tragedies with how we’re addressing it online, through social media, and statements we put out,” Angeles said. “The APISC also hosted a support space on the 23 for any support that people may want and for people to voice their opinions.”
Students who wish to meet others at CPP with similar traditions, cultures or beliefs, or those who wish to learn more about certain cultures, can visit any Centers for Transformation, Retention, Equity and Empowerment.
Feature image courtesy of Darren Loo
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