Celebrating Cultural Diversity: The Lunar New Year

By, Jessica W. ’22

In America, most families celebrate holidays such as New Year’s Eve and Thanksgiving together. In China, the most prevalent holiday is the Lunar New Year celebration.

The Lunar New Year marks the first day of the year in the traditional Chinese calendar. As China’s history is strongly rooted in agriculture, farmers need a calendar that instructs them on when to plant the seeds and when to harvest. The Lunar Calendar is their way of recognizing these important dates, which is essential in their farming-based lifestyle. The Lunar New Year festival is the first holiday of the year and is celebrated before the labor-intensive spring season on the farm; it is a joyful time before starting another busy year.

The tradition has been carried out for over two thousand years; each new Chinese year is symbolized with one of the twelve animals, which are called the Chinese Zodiacs. A different Chinese character is represented for each new year. For example, the Lunar New Year of 2019 began the Year of the Pig. The twelve animal characters in order consist of the mouse, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, lamb, monkey, chicken, dog, and finally, pig. Every twelve years, the cycle of animal characters repeats itself. Each character represents something different that makes each year unique and meaningful. For example, the people born in the Year of the Pig are typically considered to be more relaxed and easygoing because pigs are known to have those characteristics, while the people born in the Year of the Tiger are more assertive.

The Lunar New Year celebration also exists in other Asian countries, mostly in East and South Asia, such as Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and Singapore. The celebration includes similar traditions compared to China, but the date of the festival is not exactly the same.

At Winsor, AsIAm organized a celebration for the Lunar New Year by providing Chinese food such as spring rolls and steamed vegetables for lunch and leading games that showed several aspects of Chinese culture. There were competitions on picking up marbles with chopsticks, a utensil that most East Asians use. In addition, there was a station where students  could cut out Chinese word characters such as “fortune” on red construction paper, as red is considered to be a lucky color in China. Karina P. ‘22 said that “I liked how the games and food revolved around Chinese culture so it was all relevant to the festival itself. In the future, it might be fun to have a Chinese Dragon perform and also to learn more about the holiday’s celebration.”

Many Winsor students also celebrate the Lunar New Year at home. “I had hotpot for dinner with my family to celebrate the Lunar New Year,” Zoe W. ‘22 said. Some other common food to eat when celebrating the Lunar New Year includes oranges, rice cake, tofu, dumplings, and fish. Another famous tradition is watching a popular television show that broadcasts the Lunar New Year party in China, which is organized by CCTV, the main state television broadcaster. The show includes performances on dancing, stand-up comedy, and skits. In addition, as the Chinese year begins, most children will get some money to get new toys, clothes, and other commodities to start the new year and indulge. The money is put into red pockets, with the purpose of bringing good fortune to the children for the new year. Emily H. ‘22 and Helena N. ‘23 both mentioned that they received Lunar New Year money!

The Lunar New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays in China, and with it comes a lot of cultural traditions. The holiday plays a huge role in Chinese society, and it was an amazing opportunity to share some of the festival with everyone.