Campus rings in the Lunar New Year

The year of the tiger has shifted to the year of the rabbit as the Lunar New Year rung in Jan. 22.

“In Vietnam, the zodiac animal is the cat, which represents good luck and smooth sailing. In other countries, the zodiac animal for this year is the rabbit,” said Emily Vo, president of Asian Students in America. “The rabbit symbolizes mercy, elegance, and beauty. Other zodiac signs, in order starting in 2024, include the dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, and tiger.” 

The holiday marks the first new moon on the lunisolar calendar. A lunisolar calendar is a calendar that is used in many cultures that combines lunar and solar calendars.

 The lunar phase and the solar year, or the sun’s position in the sky above Earth, are indicated by the date in Lunisolar calendars. 

“The Lunar New Year actually changes every year since it is based on the lunisolar calendar,” said Vo. “Last year, the Lunar New Year was on February 1st and the year before, February 23rd. The celebration usually lasts about a month long.” 

Lunar New Year is a great way for students to learn about other cultures on campus. 

“It’s always great to know what cultural aspects are important to everyone. Especially coming to school in Mankato, where Mankato itself isn’t as diverse,” said Pakou Lee, the director of Asian American and Multicultural Affairs and the Multicultural Center.

“So any opportunity that all of our students and faculty staff can get to learn about the diversity on our campus, we welcome them to join our events. That is also why we host those events.” 

To help celebrate this holiday, ASIA is having an event Saturday, Jan. 28, from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. 

“We will have panels on different Asian cultures surrounding the edge of the ballroom. In addition, we will have DTG Lions, an amazing lion-dancing team; Kinsmen, our talented Asian American Urban Dance Crew; and so many more performances to share throughout the evening,” said Vo. 

Lee explained what events and festivities are planned for the Lunar New Year celebration. 

“We are bringing in lion dancers for celebrations for Lunar New Year. Lion dancers are kind of the key performers. Their movements and acts are very symbolic, like chasing away the evils of the past year and bringing in good luck,” Lee said. “We’ll have cultures from all over Asia, and these are our students who are representative of those cultures. It is also open to everyone and is free admission. Come at any time, and there’s even an opportunity to do karaoke as well, so you’ll get to be a part of the show.” 

Students can learn more about this holiday by doing their own research.

“There are many postings about the Lunar New Year on social media. The best way to experience this holiday is to go to one of many Lunar New Year events, which can be found online,” said Vo. “Our ASIA Night Market is a nice gateway to experiencing just a small amount of the holiday. DTG Lions will also share a little about the holiday at their booth this Saturday.” 

This holiday is not just one singular culture, it is many other Asian cultures. 

“Oftentimes, people refer to the Lunar New Year as ‘Chinese New Year,’ when many other countries celebrate this holiday: Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and more,” said Vo. “A major tradition for this holiday is having children wish their elders a happy new year, wishing them happiness, wealth, health, and prosperity. In return, the elders gift money in red envelopes that are considered lucky for the children to hold onto.”

Header Photo: Minnesota State has been home to many a Lunar New Year’s celebration. The Lunar New Year was rung in, Sunday, shifting from the year of the tiger to the year of the rabbit. (File Photo)

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

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