In honor of their ancestors, many Asians around the globe celebrated the Lunar New Year on Feb. 2. The Lunar New Year date changes on the Gregorian calendar annually because it is usually celebrated on the first day of the first lunar month. Traditionally, the Lunar New Year is a celebration that lasts more than one day.
The tiger, the zodiac animal of the year, symbolizes power and leadership. Those born in the year of the tiger are often confident and trustworthy, but can be stubborn and aggressive. Though COVID-19 prevents people from gathering in person, the UConn Chinese Undergraduate Students Association and the Vietnamese Student Association have still thought of ways to keep the public informed about and engaged in this Asian holiday.
This year, the Lunar New Year celebration looks quite different from in the past. CUSA and VSA will create a week-long schedule filled with activities from Feb. 13 through Feb. 18, as well as social media posts about folktales, legends and the origins of the Lunar New Year. Instagram users will be encouraged to share videos and photographs about how they celebrated Lunar New Year. There will also be video dance performance watch parties and red envelope distribution throughout the week.
Last Lunar New Year, CUSA and VSA honored the holiday by creating workshop programs for lantern making, painting, cooking, dancing and game shows. The annual Lunar New Year fashion show was presented through TikTok videos. The zodiac animal of 2021 was the oxen. Oxen are known to be hard workers and responsible, but they usually keep to themselves.
In Feb. 2020, right before the pandemic hit, CUSA and VSA collaborated in an in-person Lunar New Year program. Festivities included lion dances, performances, fashion walks and both traditional and modern dances. People were asked to dress formally, with dinner provided for guests. 2020 marked the year of the rat zodiac, which symbolizes someone who is clever and energetic, but has poor communication skills.
Despite what some may think, the Lunar New Year is not an official federal holiday in the U.S. yet. However, Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) is advocating for a bill to change this. Meng has stated that because Asians are the fastest-growing population in the U.S., the Lunar New Year deserves to be recognized. If passed, Lunar New Year would be the 12th federal holiday in the U.S. and the second federal holiday, after Juneteenth, signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Johnathan H.X. Lee, a professor of Asian studies at San Francisco State University hopes the tiger zodiac will bring about unity and peace, as anti-Asian hate crimes have risen to an unprecedented level in the past year. He adds that the tiger zodiac can serve as a symbol for the fight against anti-Asian hate.