The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

The Student News Site of Niles West High School

Niles West News

VSA and Chinese Club Celebrate the Lunar New Year

Students commenced the celebration and gathered to eat traditional dishes.

The Niles West Chinese and Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) celebrated the Lunar New Year on Monday, Feb. 12 in the South Lobby. The Lunar New Year marks the arrival of Spring and is typically celebrated in many East Asian countries.

“Lunar New Year runs on a lunar cycle outside of the Gregorian calendar. In many cultures, it’s a celebration of the arrival of spring. Houses are decked in red couplets and families come back home for a family reunion. It’s an important time of the year that lasts for 15 days,” senior and co-president of Chinese club Derek Kyan said.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated differently across the various East Asian countries. They also have their own distinctive name for the holiday as well.

“Although Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are used interchangeably in America, it is celebrated by many people from Southeast Asia, Korea, Vietnam and China. Each country has their own way of celebrating the new year. It is called Chun Jie in China, Seollal in Korea and Tet in Vietnam,” Kyan said.

The Lunar New Year is one of the biggest holidays for those who celebrate it in many countries, similar to how Christmas can be in the United States. World Language teacher and sponsor of Chinese club Wileen Hsing expresses how it can be difficult to celebrate this holiday when many people have school or work to attend.

“The students, led by Vy Tran (founder of VSA), tried to provide a safe space for each other to celebrate the biggest holiday for their cultures. Some states [including New York, California, New Jersey and Colorado] have started to recognize LNY [Lunar New Year] as an official school holiday, but in areas where it isn’t a day off from work or school, it’s hard to celebrate it because it often falls during weekdays, where it’s hard to get everyone together. Celebrating it with Chinese Club and VSA was a nice way to set aside time to share the celebration with a bigger community,” Hsing said.

Lunar New Year a time where families gather together and eat various food which represent different types of luck for the new year.

“In China, the New Year celebration is celebrated for fifteen days (ending on the Lantern Festival, which is February 24 this year). The biggest feast is on New Year’s Eve, where the whole family comes together to eat food that is symbolic of different things (whole fish = abundance, dumplings = wealth, a sticky rice cake = good year, sweet rice balls = togetherness, etc.). The older/married generation gives red envelopes filled with money to the younger/single generations for luck and prosperity. The belief is that whatever we do during these fifteen days of celebration ensures how lucky and prosperous the rest of the year will be,” Hsing said.

Similarly, in Vietnam, the Lunar New Year is a time where people dress up in traditional attire, give presents and decorate their homes for good luck.

“In Vietnamese culture, people would dressed up in their traditional clothing (áo dài), and children would receive lì xì (red envelopes containing money) from their parents and elders. The house is decorated with yellow and gold representing money and prosperity and red for luck. Like the Christmas tree, the yellow apricot blossom tree is a holiday essential in every house during Tet. Some family would also visit their ancestors graves to pay respects and welcome the new year along with them,” senior Vy Nguyen said.

Social studies teacher and sponsor of VSA John Lee finds this celebration very important for students to express their culture and identity. It’s a way students can feel proud of who they are and where they come from.

“I think it’s a huge thing [to celebrate the LNY], obviously it’s important to create unity but it’s still as important for students to be able to celebrate their own unique identities. The nice thing about Lunar New Year is that it’s not just one country or culture that celebrates it, so you can also have this building of coalition between other Asian groups. Here we had the VSA and the Chinese Club hopefully we want also want to incorporate the Korean Club. It’s nice for students to be able to identify and share similar cultures and celebrations with each other,” Lee said.

Students are grateful that Niles West has created a safe space for their culture to also be recognized and celebrated.

“I love the space that the students and teachers have created to allow our culture to be represented and recognized. I feel seen and appreciated by my school for being able to celebrate the new year with friends and staff,” Kyan said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Niles West News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *