Lunar New Year: How students are celebrating the year of the pig

Lunar New Year: How students are celebrating the year of the pig

Photo Credits: TESSA KOGA / AGGIE

Students of different backgrounds share how they celebrate the Lunar New Year

Every year, millions of East Asians welcome the new year of the lunar calendar with a number of traditions. This year, falling on the first new moon of the lunar calendar, which would be Feb. 5, those who celebrate this holiday welcome the year of the pig. Also known as Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year is generally celebrated by those of Chinese, Vietnamese, Laos, Singaporean and Korean cultures. Lanterns, cherry blossoms and red envelopes are generally associated with Lunar New Year. Traditional gowns are worn, families come together to celebrate, firecrackers pop, smiles beam on the faces of the young and old.

For most students who would normally celebrate, however, being away from home and family during Winter Quarter means that celebrating might not be exactly how it used to be before college.

Enoch Fu, a first-year electrical engineering major from San Jose, noted that he may or may not be going home for the holiday. He said that he usually celebrates with family and will only celebrate this year if he goes home to be with them. In the past, Fu noted that he used to celebrate with family by coming together, eating and receiving red envelopes. Being of Taiwanese and Chinese descent, Fu associates the holiday with eating traditional, home-cooked Chinese and Taiwanese food and receiving hong baos (red envelopes filled with money), which he noted is his favorite part of the Lunar New Year.  

Thanh Le, a Vietnamese fourth-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major from Clovis, Calif., said that she and her family have already established a yearly routine.  

“I usually celebrate Lunar New Year at my grandma’s house,” Le said.

She stated that because this is how she has always celebrated, it hasn’t made much of a difference now that she has moved away from home. She also noted that because her grandma lives in Fairfield, Calif., a 30-minute drive from Davis, it is not hard for her to gather with family.

“All of my family and extended family gather there for traditional religious rituals with a special lunch or dinner afterwards,” Le said.

Raised in a Buddhist household, Le said that the “religious rituals” her family practices include paying respects to the deceased family members at the altar as well as the Buddhist deities.

“There’s also a part of the celebration where all of the kids in the family give their well wishes to the elders. In return, red envelopes are handed out,” Le said.

In Vietnamese, these red envelopes are called li xi, which are also filled with money. Le’s favorite part of the holiday is that it is a very “family centric” holiday.

“With all of our busy schedules, it can be hard to make time for family. But with an event like this, we get a chance to catch up,” Le said.

While many students who would usually celebrate might not find the time to gather with family for the holiday due to classes and distance from home, Le noted that it is always nice to take time away from school to reunite with family for a tradition.

“Another thing with celebrating Lunar New Year is that it allows us to keep a family tradition as well as our heritage alive,” Le said, emphasizing how important it is for younger generations to uphold family values and carry on traditions that have been present for many, many years.

For students looking to celebrate locally, the city of San Francisco will host its annual Chinese New Year parade on Feb. 23. The event will also be streamed for viewing on TV. On Feb. 9, the Chinese New Year Cultural Association in Sacramento will have a program celebrating the holiday.

Written by: Linh Nguyen – features@theaggie.org