CSUN’s Chinese New Year 2021 celebration brought together guest speakers from different departments to share how they worked to improve students’ and faculty’s knowledge of China’s history and culture.
On February 26, CSUN’s China Institute invites everyone to its virtual Chinese New Year 2022 celebration. Like last year, attendees can expect presentations from CSUN faculty and leaders, as well as activities to celebrate the new year.
“Students can expect to learn a lot about how Chinese New Year is celebrated and about Chinese culture,” said Weimin Sun, director of CSUN China Institute.
It is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac, which is said to represent strength, will and bravery. With the Chinese zodiac, the 12-year cycle of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, water and metal work together to produce a 60-year cycle that determines the personality traits of those born under a specific year. The last time the Year of the Water Tiger took place was 60 years ago.
Also known as the Lunar New Year, the 2022 Chinese New Year began on February 1, with the celebration lasting up to 15 days.
On the 15th day, the Chinese New Year culminates with the Lantern Festival, a celebration that includes the tradition of writing wishes on colorful paper lanterns and releasing them to float into the sky. Along with lighting lanterns under the full moon, Sun also added that “dragon and lion dances, opera, and temple fair are often performed during this time.”
With many fun rituals and activities, Chinese New Year is a time for people to reunite with family, spend time with friends, and eat delicious cultural dishes.
“The family gathers for a rich dinner on New Year’s Eve. The whole family [makes] dumplings together, which they eat on New Year’s morning,” Sun explained. “Children pay homage to their parents and parents hand out red envelopes with money inside on New Year’s Day.”
Although the Lunar New Year is commonly referred to as a Chinese holiday, it is also celebrated in other countries in Asia, each with their own traditions.
Seollal, South Korea’s Lunar New Year, usually lasts three days and is centered on respecting elders and appeasing or pacifying ancestors. Playing cultural games and eating Korean dishes like Tteokguk, a rice cake soup, are also common traditions during this celebration.
The Vietnamese Lunar New Year is colloquially known as Tet, short for Tet Nguyen Dan, and is observed well over a month before the onset of spring. Tet traditions include eating traditional Vietnamese sticky rice dishes, forgiving past disagreements, and strengthening relationships with people by visiting their homes.
In Mongolia, people welcome the new year by dressing up in new clothes and drinking milk tea or other dairy products while giving gifts to guests who visit their homes. Tsagaan Sar, meaning “white moon”, was traditionally celebrated by dressing in white, riding white horses and consuming dairy products to symbolize a purification from darkness.
For Sun, celebrating Chinese New Year with his family is a bit different in the United States, where he thinks the celebration is much more streamlined.
“In addition to cooking dinner and connecting with friends, we often go to the annual Chinese New Year celebration at the Huntington Library,” Sun said.
In addition to their online party, China Institute is also hosting a virtual feast on February 19 for CSUN students to experience the different foods prepared for this celebration.
For those who want a physical experience, in-person celebrations are slowly making a comeback in Los Angeles.
Students can observe Chinese New Year at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Starting Feb. 5, the outdoor event will feature attractions such as lion dancing and a martial arts showcase, as well as Bian Lian – the Chinese art of mask swapping.
Celebrants can also attend the Alhambra Lunar New Year Festival on February 20, which also offers an in-person experience of cultural festivities and traditions.
Those visiting Disneyland or Universal Studios Hollywood will be greeted with cultural decorations and special in-park events celebrating the Lunar New Year. One of the highlights of the event is the presentation of Mulan’s Lunar New Year procession, featuring Disney’s first iconic Chinese character.
Attendees at all of these in-person events are required to follow COVID-19 protocols, such as wearing masks and fully vaccinated or testing negative before attending.
No matter where you plan to celebrate Lunar New Year, there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the significance of the holiday and the cultural traditions behind it.
“Personally, celebrating Chinese New Year continues a cultural tradition and brings back many memories – it doesn’t seem right if our family doesn’t celebrate it,” Sun said. “It also gives the opportunity to connect with relatives and friends and teach my children about traditional Chinese culture.”