As the Year of the Ox begins Friday amid an ongoing pandemic, many in the Dal community who celebrate the Lunar New Year will be looking for different ways to mark the special occasion this time around.
Online meetups and small “bubble”-based celebrations will replace the usual larger gatherings as COVID-19 considerations continue to impact how people socialize and celebrate. But while the shape of celebrations may differ this year, the spirit of the holiday remains the same: a special convergence of tradition and renewal.
“Many students are so far from home, and this celebration brings a sense of home, a sense of belonging and support. It’s part of their roots and culture and pride of their culture,” says Austin Zhang, student and alumni engagement officer in the Faculty of Computer Science.
A cross-cultural holiday
Many different cultures around the world celebrate a variation of the Lunar New Year based on their local luni-solar calendar. In China, it is considered the most important holiday of the year. It is also an important holiday in Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian countries.
“The title Lunar New Year is a more inclusive term,” says Zack Yu, an international student advisor with Dal’s International Centre. “Here we’re in [Canada], a diverse society, and many countries celebrate Lunar New Year, so we want to include everyone.”
Zhang says different places have different traditions and ways they celebrate. It’s fairly common to see people getting new clothes and a fresh haircut, “a must for good luck.”
“Usually, it’s a time people bring out the most authentic and amazing food, firecrackers, fireworks, and loud music,” he says.
A time of renewal
Indeed, imagery for the celebration is filled with fireworks. “We have to fire fireworks to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year and start fresh,” explains Zhang.
As Yu adds, “In the old stories, ‘year’ is a master who comes out on New Year’s, and we use firecrackers to scare him away.”
Not surprisingly, Lunar New Year is a time when many memories are made and friendships are forged.
“The excitement for a kid is unbelievable,” says Yu. “The build up to it is big. People spend weeks getting ready for a fresh start. It’s a renewal and a hope for a new beginning, the hope comes from the resets.”
Would you like a chance to win a lucky red envelope? Click here to tell us your favourite Lunar New Year tradition or New Year experience and you will be entered into the Dalhousie Lunar New Year Prize Draw!
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