By Ryan Fantasia
As highlighted in the recent AsIAm assembly, Lunar New Year is a significant holiday celebrated by numerous cultures within Asia. Though its exact date varies according to the lunar calendar, the new year typically takes place sometime in late January or early February. Many Winsor community members observe Lunar New Year, but students remain obligated to attend school when the occasion falls on a weekday. To explore Winsor’s decision to still require school on this holiday, we asked students celebrating it and faculty who plan scheduling to offer their thoughts.
Lunar New Year is culturally meaningful to many Winsor students. Jessica Wu ’24 shared that “in my family, Lunar New Year is not just one day, but multiple that span until the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar…every first day, my family gathers around our dinner table and makes dumplings together. On the last day…we make and eat 汤圆 [sweet dumplings], a Chinese dessert.” Ellie Carney ’23 noted that every family and culture celebrates Lunar New Year differently, and traditions “depend on the person.”
This year, the semester break enabled Winsor students celebrating Lunar New Year, which fell on January 22, to enjoy it without school or homework. This has not always been the case, however. Wu said, “I usually have school on the first day of the Lunar New Year …the time with family I had when I was younger has slowly decreased.” Regarding the benefit of a potential day off, she said that “it would be wonderful…to see my family and friends so we can celebrate this holiday without having to worry about other matters.”
Mr. Braxton, who is part of the Academic Administration responsible for scheduling, explained that the committee convenes at the beginning of each semester to create an academic calendar. Although school cannot be canceled for every occasion, Mr. Braxton believes that “we do a good job noting on our faculty calendar many of the holidays and religious observances faculty should be aware of.” Students observing such holidays are granted extensions on their assignments, one accommodation that helps them enjoy their day without sacrificing a late pass. Above all, Mr. Braxton emphasized that students “should always prioritize family…many of these holidays are often associated with meaningful family time and nothing can replace that.”
Though a school-free Lunar New Year might not be possible, Carney suggested an alternative beyond extensions that could allow students to make the most of the day. She remarked that “it might be helpful to be excused from after school activities that night because spending time with family and eating a meal together is definitely a central part of the holiday.” As Winsor works to better support its diverse student body each day, we as students can continue thinking of new ways to ensure that our community truly welcomes everyone.