The International Student and Scholars Services partnered with Global Gateways, a University of Connecticut organization that connects domestic students with international students, in a presentation and Kahoot game about the Lunar and Solar New Year through Webex Thursday evening.
“A lunisolar calendar is a calendar that follows the phases of the moon and the sun,” Pamela Nguyen, a member of Global Gateways and presenter for the event, said.
2021 celebrates the Year of the Ox, an animal that symbolizes hard work, according to CNN in an article titled, “Lunar New Year 2021: Ushering in the Year of the Ox.” Steven Chen, another member of the Global Gateways club and presenter for the event, said the Lunar New Year is celebrated among many East Asian countries usually occurring between January and February (in fact, today is actually the 2021 Lunar New Year).
In Vietnam, people call the Lunar New Year “Tết.” It is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture and is celebrated through larges feasts with families, according to Nguyen. Typical Vietnamese foods during the New Year include fruits, Banh Chung, a square sticky rice cake with filling inside, or “xôi,” a mixture of sticky rice and fruits, Nguyen said. Another tradition in Vietnamese culture is to receive red envelopes with money inside. Usually, only the elderly or children receive these. In order to receive the red envelope, a child would have to say a New Year greeting or wish, according to Nguyen.
Áo dài is a traditional Vietnamese clothing that both Vietnamese women and men wear during the Lunar New Year. Áo dàis are a symbol of beauty for women, according to Nguyen. The traditional Áo dài is a long-sleeved tunic that is tighter near the chest but looser and has slits on the sides. Women also wear loose pants underneath, according to the Ao Dai festival site in an article titled, “A Brief History of the Ao Dai.”
Lunar New Year is also one of the most important national holidays in China, according to Chen. The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is a time where families finally get to reunite. He stated that some families rarely get to see each other during the year so the Lunar New Year is a big celebration for them. Chinese people receive a weeklong break to spend time with family, Chen stated.
Like Vietnam, Chinese people also give red envelopes filled with money to their children or elders. The envelopes are red because the color is seen as an auspicious symbol. Besides feasts, normally there would also be fireworks and large gatherings too, according to Chen.
Lunar New Year celebrations are not limited to those countries, the presentation also mentioned other countries like South Korea, Mongolia, Tibet and India. Each having its own traditions for the New Year. In South Korea, people eat ddeokguk (rice cake soup), play games and receive money. Mongolians clean their homes, receive new clothes and watch bullfighting.
In India, only 18 states celebrate the Lunar New Year and it lasts about a few days. According to the presenters, typically there is a big prayer and ritual for ancestors during the Indian Lunar New Year. In Tibet, the holiday is called Losar. During Losar, Tibet is closed to foreigners and closely associates the holiday with Buddhism where they perform exorcism rituals to reign in good energy, according to Nguyen.
Although all countries call it the Lunar New Year, many countries have a unique way of celebrating it. Especially this year due to the pandemic, many events and celebrations are virtual according to a CNN article titled, “Lunar New Year celebrations will be largely virtual events this year. That’s more bad news for Chinatown USA.”