A message from David Paltza, University Registrar about celebrating the Lunar New Year.
Happy Lunar New Year
Some of you might be very familiar with the Lunar New Year commonly known as the Chinese New Year. But did you know that it is actually widely celebrated across many Asian nations and Asian-American communities? I grew up in a very culturally Asian household (Filipino, to be exact), in the beautifully diverse city of Los Angeles, CA. One facet about this huge city of wonderful diversity is the opportunity to celebrate a variety of cultures with full equity and inclusion.
In that spirit, below are 5 things to know about the Lunar New Year:
- When? Between late January and early February on the second new moon after the winter solstice, starting the lunisolar calendar to welcome the beginning of spring. Most traditions include festivals, parades, symbolic food, and elders giving money to children and youth.
- Why? Having originated as an agricultural tradition in ancient China, by farmers using the moon as reference for when to sow and harvest, it continues as an annual celebration and official holiday across Asian nations and communities.
- How? On a rotation based on the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, deriving from the tale of a “Great Race” in Chinese mythology, each ascribing different personality traits and annual fortunes to people born in each year. 2023 is the year of the Rabbit, and those born in years of the Rabbit are generally thought to be gentle, quick-witted, and easygoing.
- Who? With “bringing honor to the family” as an unquestionable value and precedent in the Asian culture, about 2 billion people of various related backgrounds celebrate, return to their hometowns, and visit family—an occurrence so vast it is often referred to as “The Spring Migration”.
- Where? Besides China, it is celebrated across surrounding nations including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even parts of Japan, each with their own variations. In Vietnam, they recognize the Cat instead of the Rabbit, and elders of Korea give money to children in silk bags.
Of course, as a lover of food, my favorite tradition of this holiday is the communal enjoyment of symbolic food. Of the many dishes and treats shared, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines especially celebrate community and inclusion through the incorporation of sticky rice, emblematic of “togetherness”. While this message is not encompassing of all the customs and opportunities behind the Lunar New Year, I hope you learned about diversity in America and across the globe. Happy New Year 2023!