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Students Discuss Lunar New Year Traditions in the Year of the Water Tiger

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival and the Lunar New Year, marks the beginning of the first new moon of the lunar calendar, often celebrated in China and other Asian countries with various traditions and dishes. Each of the months in the lunar calendar is symbolized by one of 12 zodiac animals, and each year is represented by a single animal. 2022 is slated to be the year of the water tiger. 

On Tuesday, Feb. 1, the NC State Office of Global Engagement held a Lunar New Year celebration. It took place in the Talley Student Union Ballroom from 6:30-8 p.m. with food, music and activities of all types. Even students who don’t celebrate Lunar New Year took it as a fantastic opportunity to learn about a different culture.

Sami Jiang, a first-year studying accounting, said she planned on celebrating the new year with her family by going home Feb. 1 and returning to campus the following morning. 

“The day after Chinese New Year, we have a tradition to visit relatives that live in Virginia,” Jiang said. “The most important tradition is being able to have the whole family happily gathered together.”

While she is unable to visit her relatives in Virginia this year, Jiang will celebrate on campus by watching Chinese New Year television shows and enjoying her mom’s hot pot at home.

Yucheng Niu, a second-year studying computer science, said that his family always decorates for the Chinese New Year.

“We set up decorations to keep the bad juju away because it is the new year you want good luck,” Niu said. “You have a lot of lucky symbols, which you’ll flip upside down because when you flip it upside down it represents luck being poured down onto us.”

When it comes to food, Niu’s family also makes dumplings among other dishes.  Similar to Jiang, Niu’s celebration is affected by COVID-19 — he can’t meet his relatives in person.

“Normally, I would consistently go to China during this time,” Niu said. “So we would go back to some of our ancestral homes, which is more like on the farms. And we’d have a bunch of family members come together to basically just do various jobs of, you know, setting up the dinner for each other.”

Despite the ongoing pandemic putting many large gatherings on pause, Chinese New Year is a chance for those who celebrate to catch up with their family and friends, practice age-old traditions and celebrate a holiday steeped in legend.

“I think that’s like the main part of Chinese New Year,” Niu said. “It’s partly about starting a new year and spending it with family because family is a very large core value of, you know, Chinese tradition… Most of it was just spending time with family for me.”

This article was originally published by The Technician, written by Dhwani Shah.