Students Participate in Traditions and Activities of Lunar New Year

Jonathan Pham, News Editor

Asian countries such as China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Singapore celebrated the Lunar New Year on Feb. 12, with festivities lasting 15 days. This year, Miramonte did not hold a celebration of its own, however, the Mandarin Club hosted a meeting in which they discussed the history of Lunar New Year, the activities, the food, and the traditions of the festival. In addition, club members participated in some lantern making.

“I celebrate Lunar New Year by creating signs and posting them on my door, abiding by certain customs, and spreading the history of the holiday. My favorite tradition is creating the posters and writing in a calligraphy art style form,” senior and Mandarin Club president Lu Sylvester said.

The Lunar New Year kicks off the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar, a calendar used by certain cultures to indicate both the moon phase and time of year. Each year celebrates a different animal from the Chinese zodiac cycle. 2021 is the year of the ox. Preceding the new year, families clean their houses, do new years shopping, offer sacrifices to their ancestors, and have a family reunion dinner. During the 15 days of celebration, people set off fireworks and firecrackers, eat traditional foods pertaining to each culture, hand out red envelopes, visit relatives, and then watch lanterns on the last day. However, due to COVID-19 guidelines, Miramonte students had to celebrate on a smaller scale.

“Each year, primarily my mom and I, make radish/turnip cake, taro cake, and nian gao. These are common foods eaten during Lunar New Year and are meant to bring a new year of prosperity and good fortune. We make multiple batches and give them out to our family and friends, and everyone is happy to eat these dishes together,” senior Jeromy Chang said.

Though customs vary from culture to culture, certain traditions remain constant including the distribution of red envelopes, which are supposed to bring good luck for the new year, firecrackers and fireworks, which are supposed to ward off evil spirits, and the lion and dragon dances, which are also meant to send away any evil spirits. 

“For Chinese New Year, my family gives out red envelopes filled with money to all the kids and then everyone gets together for dinner the weekend before,” junior Nathan Chan said.

On Lunar New Year, good fortune becomes a major theme. There are certain things that bring good fortune and others that bring bad fortune. During the new year, one is to avoid wearing black or white, crying, arguing, cutting hair, doing laundry, and sweeping as these actions are supposed to get rid of one’s good fortune for the coming year. Red decorations adorn households celebrating the Lunar New Year as red is the lucky color of the holiday and supposedly attracts luck. 

“For my family, we normally have a big family dinner with all of our relatives that live in the Bay Area. Obviously, we can’t do that this year which is sad. Being with family is one of the most important parts about Lunar New Year. It’s the idea of being able to start a fresh new year with the whole family together. Being able to be around all of my relatives, including the ones that I see rarely because of everyone’s busy schedules, is one of my favorite parts about Lunar New Year,” Chang said.