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Lighting the Lantern for Lunar New Year

By Miranda Lin

The Lunar New Year is a bright and festive holiday in the Asian American community, usually falling around late January or early February per the solar calendar. This holiday is celebrated by billions of people around the world on the first day of the lunar calendar. From large family dinners to neighborhood celebrations to exchanges of red envelopes and two dollar bills, Lunar New Year is a time for those to gather and celebrate another year of the Chinese Zodiac. It is a time of appreciation, as well as wishes of good health, fortune, and longevity for friends and family.

This year, the first day of the new year will fall on February 12, 2021, and it is the year of the ox. According to the story of the Chinese Zodiac, the ox was second at the finish line after the rat in the famous Heavenly Gate Race, which decided the order of animals that would be selected for the zodiac. The Year of the Ox symbolizes traits such as hard work, honesty, and persistence. The previous Year of the Ox was 2009, and the next Year of the Ox will be in 2033.

...learning about a different culture is always a positive and rewarding experience...

The usual celebrations and traditions look different this year because of the pandemic. Many Asian students are doing their best to adjust to the situation, finding different and safer ways to celebrate. Although the change of plans may be disappointing, most students recognize that they can change their mindset and make the most out of a time and a holiday that is still meant to promote positivity and appreciation.

“This year, I won’t be able to meet up with my family for Lunar New Year and have our annual dinner together. I’m probably only going to celebrate with my immediate family. The whole situation just makes me feel sad for the world, but I think I’m going to rethink it as sacrificing this year of celebration to hopefully put an end to the pandemic,” said junior Laurence Lai.

The NHP Asian American Community of Culture, a newly formed Asian American student organization, planned a week-long virtual celebration for the week of February 8. Activities included talking about the history of the Lunar New Year, lantern making, calligraphy, cooking cultural recipes, and learning to speak different languages. For others, the celebrations this year will also provide a new learning experience as AACC events are a great opportunity to learn about the cultures in New Hyde Park.

Artwork by Sabeena Ramdarie

The first day of the new year is February 12, marking the start of the Year of the Ox.

“Giving this massive holiday some spotlight is a cool thing, not to mention the fact that learning about a different culture is always a positive and rewarding experience,” said sophomore Izhaan Ahmed.

Although this Lunar New Year will look very different from the festive celebrations of the past, most students are still keeping in mind the overall positive and appreciative meaning of the holiday and looking forward to the celebrations to come with a new year and a new start.


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