Article by Kirtana Devaraj

Photos by Manapo Ishikawa

Lunar New Year is an important festival celebrated in many countries and it marks the turn of the traditional lunisolar calendar. Lunar New Year is often associated with China, but it is celebrated in other countries as well including the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Malaysia and Thailand.

Lunar New Year is a major part of the Chinese calendar and marks a very important day for the Chinese. Traditionally, the festival was the time to honour deities and ancestors. Often, Chinese families gather for a reunion dinner the day before the New Year. The families also thoroughly sweep out their houses, which is believed to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Junior Lulu Z. says, “I celebrate Lunar New Year with my family. We stay up all night, which is traditional for our family. This is because of the Asian belief that a monster  comes at night on the day of the New Year and terrifies people. We also make dumplings for Chinese New Year.” In the Bearcat community, the Chinese people spend part of the day together. Lulu adds, “I meet up with the Chinese people in ISM and we celebrate the day together in the morning.”

Lunar New Year is also celebrated in the Philippines due to the fact that there are many Chinese-Filipinos living here. Most Filipino-Chinese families usually prepare lucky money in red envelopes, have traditional food and display various food and fruits on a table which is believed to invite good fortune. Junior Gabby F. says, “In my family, we get red envelopes with lucky money. In the evening, we watch dragon dances which is a family tradition.”

The Japanese celebrate Lunar New Year differently as compared to the Filipinos. While they do celebrate with their family, the Japanese also go to shrines on the day. Junior Manapo I. mentions, “We eat a special dish called osechi the night before the new year. On Lunar New Year’s eve, it is family tradition for us to watch special music competitions on TV. Later, we eat noodles also. On Lunar New Year’s day, we go to the shrine.” Similarly, the Koreans also celebrate Lunar New Year. Junior Sally J. states, “On Lunar New Year’s day, we play games and eat traditional food. The elders of the family offer words of wisdom and give gifts which are often money.”

Undoubtedly, Lunar New Year is significant for many families in Asia and students here at ISM. It is the time where families come together to celebrate. We hope everyone in the Bearcat community had a happy Chinese New Year!

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