ACC and NCHS host Lunar New Year celebration

The Asian Culture Club (ACC) and National Chinese Honor Society (NCHS) hosted a Lunar New Year celebration in the ninth grade cafeteria after school on Jan. 19. The event, which was open to all students, included food, tea, and presentations about Lunar New Year. 

Lunar New Year is considered the celebration of a new beginning, and people around the world observe the holiday with family gatherings, street performances, firework displays, and religious activities that last for many days. 

While some people may only associate the holiday with China, Lunar New Year is celebrated by various Asian countries such as Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Each country has its own unique traditions. For example, in South Korea, people perform ancestral rites and eat tteokguk (rice cake soup), and in Vietnam, people decorate their homes with plants and flowers. 

At the Seven Lakes celebration, attendees experienced a small sample of the festivities that occur in various Asian countries. Senior Zilu Cheng, who is president of both the ACC and the NCHS, said the organizations started planning the event last year. 

“I was trying to do it last year, but because of COVID, we couldn’t have large groups,” Cheng said. “Also, we didn’t have enough money last year, so we saved up last year and tried to do it this year.” 

Cheng said she wanted students to understand that Lunar New Year is not only a Chinese holiday. 

“I [also] wanted to let others have the opportunity to interact and to see the culture and to celebrate with us,” Cheng said. 

Junior Gaurav Singh, a member of the ACC, said his favorite part of the event was the lion dance. The lion dance was performed by the Vien Thong Tu Lion Dance Team, which includes both current and former SLHS students. 

“One of my friends was in one of the costumes, so that was really fun,” Singh said. “That was the first time I’d ever seen that in person, it was really cool.”  

The lion dance, while entertaining to watch, also has a symbolic meaning associated with Lunar New Year. 

“The lion itself represents the evil spirit and the bad stuff,” Cheng said. “That’s why I asked people to wear red –  to scare off [the] lion and get out the evil spirits. Lunar New Year is actually to get rid of that bad spirit, so that’s like a representation of us having better luck next year by getting rid of this lion.” 

Other activities at the celebration were a guzheng performance by Jordan High School senior Jada Li, an origami rabbit craft to commemorate the Year of the Rabbit, and an opportunity to potentially receive money from red envelopes passed out by ACC and NCHS officers. 

Outside of the event at school, officers and members of the organizations celebrate Lunar New Year with family and friends. 

“I did fireworks outside,” junior and ACC officer Aaron Voon said. “I’m a foodie, and I’m Chinese myself, so [I really like] Chinese food. We have this thing called red bean soup with little starch balls that you put in. We also have pineapple cakes.” 

Senior Chanhee Park, who is Korean, said his Lunar New Year experience consisted of food, games, and time with family. 

“Usually, at least in a Korean household, we eat a rice cake soup dish called tteokguk,” Park said. “It’s a white color soup representing a fresh start and purity. This is also often accompanied by making dumplings with family members. For fun and games, we play a game [called] yunnori with some bets sometimes. Aside from this, we receive envelopes of money from bowing down to our elders as a sign of respect. All together, this day is called [Seollal] in Korea.” 

For next year’s SLHS Lunar New Year celebration, the ACC and NCHS hope to build upon what they have already done, Cheng said. 

“This year is actually our first year doing it, so there’s a lot of improvements we need to make,” Cheng said. “So just look forward to our next year. We will be adding fundraising for donations and stuff so we can support communities around us. We will try to host that kind of fundraising in our event so we can better help the community.”