By Song My Hoang
On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Asian Student Union (ASU) hosted a Lunar New Year event in Old Chapel.
ASU’s goal is to introduce Asian culture to the Union community by presenting students with the opportunity to participate in Asian festivities and discuss Asian issues.
The Lunar New Year event has been a tradition at Union for a few years, and it is a fun way to inform the campus about what actually occurs during Lunar New Year.
Co-President of ASU Marjorie Chee ’14 commented, “This year, the event was even more traditional. We had traditional dances, and students were singing songs in their own language. Students even made their own fans for their dance.”
The event included a Taiko performance, a Lunar New Year trivia game, a singing and piano piece, a traditional dance, a bean game where participants had to use chopsticks to pick up as many beans as possible, a student singing a song in his or her own language, a hip-hop routine, a UBreak performance and a fashion show.
“A lot of individuals assume that Lunar New Year is only a Chinese celebration. I feel that the event was more successful this year because ASU was able to incorporate more countries into the celebration,” stated Chee.
Students from China, Tibet, Japan, Korea and Malaysia attended the event to enjoy the festive atmosphere.
Lunar New Year is an important traditional holiday that is celebrated in many Asian countries.
The Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean Lunar New Year all occur on the same day, which is on Jan. 31.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar, a calendar that is based on the cycles of the moon. The new moon marks the first day of the month in the lunar calendar.
The lunar calendar is also used to calculate the zodiac years. This upcoming year will be the year of the horse. It is believed that people born in the year of the horse tend to be clever, kind, cheerful, talented and stubborn.
Many customs during Lunar New Year are intended to bring good luck in the upcoming year. Before the New Year commences, individuals will clean their houses and buy new clothes to wear. It is important to thoroughly sweep the house to get rid of any misfortunes and bad luck.
When Lunar New Year begins, elders will hand “Lucky Money,” red envelopes with money, to their children for good luck in exchange for the children’s greetings.
Lunar New Year is an occasion where family members can reunite and enjoy a special homemade feast. Family and friends gather to forget the troubles of the past year and hope for a better upcoming year.
Although Asian countries share many traditional customs, each country has its distinctive approach to celebrating Lunar New Year. For example, in Vietnam, Lunar New Year is known as “Tet,” and it occurs from the first day of the first month until at least the third day.
The Vietnamese hold the belief that the first visitor a family recieves at the start of the year will determine their fortune for the entire year. The first person that is invited into the house should have a good temper, a moral conscience and the ability to bring prosperity.
Usually the owners of the household will leave the house a few minutes before the New Year and then re-enter their house when the Lunar New Year starts. This ritual is performed to ensure that there are no potential individuals that can bring bad luck to the family. The head of the family will determine which family member is most suitable to enter the house for that particular year.
Before the Lunar New Year begins, the head of the houshold also performs a traditional ritual to invite the souls of the ancestors to join the celebration with the family. The family will offer food, cake, fruits and burn incense to honor the souls of their ancestors.
Traditional Vietnamese Tet food consists of Banh Chung, a steamed square rice cake with Mung beans and pork, Vietnamese sausage that is eaten with Banh Chung and sticky rice and boiled chicken.
Lunar New Year is an integral part of the Asian cultural identity. ASU recreated the warmth and cheerfulness that radiates from the hopeful nature of Lunar New Year.
ASU members greeted people who attended the event by handing them a red envelope containing candy. It was a small souveneir that embodied the hospitality of the Asian culture during Lunar New Year.
Happy Lunar New Year; or, as they say in Vietnam, Chuc Mung Nam Moi!