Celebrating Lunar New Year at SSFS
SSFS students had many opportunities to learn more about Lunar New Year this year, with displays and books set up in each division. Our 5th graders read a book about the mythical beast Nian, describing the origins of some of the Lunar New Year traditions, and some of the Upper School AAPI affinity group students hosted an assembly where they shared their/their family's traditions celebrating the holiday. Jasmine Wang's Asian Studies class also made and ate some delicious dumplings to honor the Lunar New Year season, and the dorm hosted a Lunar New Year dinner celebration in Westview on Sunday, Jan. 22, with authentic Asian cuisine. Click the images below to see videos.
About Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year is an important holiday in many Asian countries. The holiday is known by many names, such as Spring Festival in China, Tet in Vietnam (which this year celebrates the year of the Cat), Solnal in Korean, and Losare in Tibet. Many Asian Americans in the United States celebrate the Lunar New Year by combining Eastern and Western cultural traditions to show their unique identities. The Lunar New Year highlights the importance people place on family reunion and their hope and expectations for the New Year.
The phases of the moon mark when the Lunar New Year starts. It “typically begins with the new moon that occurs between the end of January and the end of February, and it lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns” (Lunar New Year, 2022). The holiday began in the second dynasty in China, the Shang Dynasty, about 3,500 years ago (Cindy, 2022). People make sacrifices at the beginning and end of each year. The term Nian (Year) first occurred in the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC).
While many people may not know the history of the Lunar New Year, they may still have grown up hearing about the myths and stories of the beast Nian. Once upon a time, the mythical beast Nian went to villages to damage the fields and people’s lives. People tried to place food at their doors to prevent Nian from hurting them. A wise, old man suggested scaring Nian with loud noises and red color, so people made firecrackers to stop Nian from attacking their houses. After these steps were taken, Nian stopped destroying the villages. Therefore, setting off firecrackers and making a lot of food has become the tradition of the Lunar New Year.
There are many traditions for the Lunar New Year. People would clean their houses to “get rid of bad fortune from the old year” (Roth, 2022) and usually visit and greet their families and friends during the Lunar New Year. In Korea, people would say, “ Please receive a lot of good fortune for the New Year.” and in China, people usually say, “Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year” (Roth, 2022). Many Asians have a powerful sense of clan and family. Getting together with family is what many people look forward to during the New Year celebration. Different Asian countries have unique ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but giving and receiving red envelopes is a shared tradition. People place money into red envelopes and give them to the children and seniors in the house. Celebrating the Lunar New Year reflects Asian people’s expectation of a family reunion and love of food. Hopefully, more people worldwide can celebrate the Lunar New Year together in the future.
Cindy. (n.d.). The Origin and History of Chinese New Year: Who Start and Why. The origin and history of Chinese New Year: Who start and why. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/chinese-new-year-history.htm#:~:text=Chinese%20New%20Year%20has%20enjoyed,the%20end%20of%20each%20year.
History.com Editors. (2010, February 4). Lunar New Year 2022. History.com. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/chinese-new-year
Roth, M. S. (2022, January 27). Popular Lunar New Year traditions from around the world. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/a38883958/lunar-new-year-traditions/
It can be difficult for those who celebrate Lunar New Year to be away from family during this time, as traditionally this is a holiday devoted to family get-togethers and reunions. To help ease the separation for our boarding students, Jasmine arranged for the parents of some of our students to send in their own Lunar New Year videos, which she compiled into a special video, available here.