Lunar New Year celebrates Year of the Sheep

By Lauren Coronado

The Asian & Pacific Islander Student Center at Cal Poly Pomona held their 15th annual Lunar New Year Celebration in front of the Bronco Student Center on Feb. 17. Students enjoyed cultural performances, unique foods and learned about the history of Lunar New Year.

Lunar New Year was on Thursday according to the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is coordinated by the cycles of the moon.

During the event, as tradition follows, the APISC passed out red envelopes to students filled with strawberry-flavored Chinese Lucky Candies and an information sheet about the Year of the Goat, this year’s zodiac animal. The candies coincide with the new year because of their hopes of prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year.

Thavery Lay-Bounpraseuth, coordinator of the APISC, shared some highlights of the celebration.

“Visually, the taiko drummers were a draw for folks who were walking by,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth. “The lion dancers also made the event very interactive. The cultural performances are always a highlight.”

According to Lay-Bounpraseuth, the food also attracted passersby.

“The cultural clubs on campus also sold food, and food brings people together,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth. “We also collaborated with some of the local eateries. One [was] Cha for Tea, so they came out and gave samplings. Yojie also came and brought their chocolate fondue and their green tea fondue with strawberries and Rice Krispies.”

Social justice leader and fourth-year biology student Dillon Ignatius helped with the production of the event.

“The main purpose of the event is to spread awareness and make people feel comfortable,” said Ignatius. “Our campus is inclusive to everyone, and we want to show people that we can celebrate different cultural events.”

Lay-Bounpraseuth has been planning CPP’s Lunar New Year Celebration for the past 15 years. She grew up celebrating Lunar New Year with her family, and enjoys bringing aspects of her culture’s traditional background to CPP.

“Lunar New Year, often perceived as only a Chinese New Year celebration, is a New Year’s [celebration] based on the lunar calendar, so there are other countries outside of China that celebrate the Lunar New Year,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth. “There are days of celebration, festivals and family gatherings. Traditionally, the younger kids, who are not married, will get red envelopes, which are gifts with money. It’s really a family gathering time.”

Like many other cultures, those who celebrate Lunar New Year take this time to honor their ancestors who have passed before them.

“In addition to the gathering of families and having meals together, what is traditionally done too, is folks will [make] an altar,” said Lay-Bounpraseuth. “They will cook up these elaborate dishes, which are only made once or twice a year, so that they can be placed into dishes for the ancestors to come. They put out an altar with food, drinks and do prayers by lighting incense to welcome those who have passed to come and enjoy the meal. Growing up, that was part of the celebration I participated in.”

The APISC looks forward to sharing more Asian cultures’ traditions and to its next event with the CPP community.

Lunar New Year

Jairo Pineda / The Poly Post

Lunar New Year

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