Lunar New Year

By Elyse Hychong

Wondering what’s up with all the rabbits and red? The answer is Lunar New Year, a holiday to bring in the new year and honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors.

This year, Lunar New Year was celebrated on January 22. As for the rabbits, the Chinese zodiac dictates a different animal for each year, and 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. The red is explained by a Chinese myth. In this myth, a Nian monster came to a village each year to eat livestock. Eventually, a traveling salesperson revealed that the monster was afraid of loud noises and the color red. Thus, people began to decorate with red, wear red clothes, and set off firecrackers. 

Ondine Goedhuis ’26 explained that some Lunar New Year traditions she celebrates include “having dinner with family and eating mooncakes.” Caroline Bae ’24 added, “We always eat really amazing food like tteokguk and bibimbap.” In the Lunar New Year video AsIAm made for assembly on January 19, Hailey Duan ’28 also shared, “Lunar New Year is my favorite cultural holiday because we get to eat many foods like fish, which symbolizes always having enough, and chicken, which has the same pronunciation as good luck in [Mandarin] Chinese.” Cindy Jin ’28 continued, “I personally celebrate Lunar New Year by eating certain symbolic foods like dumplings and oranges, which mean wealth and good luck. We also eat tangyuan, which is a glutinous sweet rice ball filled with sesame paste inside and represents togetherness.” Other traditions include “receiving hongbao [money in red envelopes]” (Kelly Yin ’26) and “Korean traditions like sebae, where you bow to your elders and they give you money, food, or presents.” (Remy Kim ’25).

Lunar New Year also brings friends and family together. Bae noted, “one of the things I look forward to every year is Korean New Year. All my family gathers together, and we see people that we haven’t seen for a really long time.” Jessica Wu ’24 added, “my favorite Lunar New Year memory is making dumplings with my grandmothers.” 

Each family has many different celebrations, traditions, and customs around the globe, and there is no set way to celebrate Lunar New Year. However, Lunar New Year remains constant in its message: fostering a connection to community and culture and ushering in the new year. Lunar New Year is a beloved holiday, and we cannot wait to continue to celebrate it for years to come!