New year, new beginning: the significance of Lunar New Year

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SERENA IBANEZ/SAGAMORE STAFF

Students in APAC devoted much of their time as a club to create an impactful Lunar New Year celebration at the high school.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the words Lunar New Year?

Despite many thinking of it only as a Chinese celebration, it is a holiday based on the Lunar calendar and celebrated in countries in East Asia and throughout the world.

The holiday is seen as a way to gather family members together while honoring tradition and culture, Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) adviser Karen Wong said.

“Lots of people think the Lunar New Year is one country’s new year… [people] usually think of it as ‘Chinese New Year,’” Wong said. “But in reality, there are also different countries that celebrate Lunar New Year.”

Senior Connor Yung said that Lunar New Year is very important for his culture.

“Why do we celebrate the new year? For Asian communities, it’s a new year and it’s a new beginning,” Yung said.

Wong said that it is important to her to honor the Lunar New Year so she can share her identity with other people.

“For me, someone who didn’t grow up in China, I didn’t know too much about Chinese New Year. I think it’s really important for me to be able to spend time with the family,” Wong said.

Senior and co-president of APAC Lilia Burtonpatel said it is important for the high school to celebrate the Lunar New Year because it demonstrates an openness to celebrating diverse cultures.

“We, as APAC, were able to get Lunar New Year to be a Category I holiday, which means we have it off this year, which is excellent,” Burtonpatel said. “That really shows that we’re able to make a difference and that we’ve been able to show that people’s cultures are supported and seen.”

This year, APAC will host several in-school events in celebration of the Lunar New Year, which will include games and performances throughout the day. Wong said that the Lunar New Year celebrations happening later this month will allow students to better understand and learn about the holiday.

“We’re planning to have a bake sale after school, so that others can see what we’re really celebrating outside of school,” Wong said. “Even if it’s a small glimpse, it would be really nice for other people to learn about the history of Lunar New Year and eat really good food on February 18th.”

APAC will also be collaborating with Tappan Green Restaurant to serve a menu of Lunar New Year cuisine from February 14 to 18th. Both students and staff can order this menu for lunch throughout that week.

“I think a lot of people in the school don’t really understand [the Lunar New Year],” Burtonpatel said. “But they are able to at least know that there’s something special going on because they have this special in-school celebration that’s so fun, especially with the assembly where we are able to share so many different types of culture that people might not see often.”

There will be a celebration on Feb. 18th at the high school throughout the school day to celebrate Lunar New Year. (SERENA IBANEZ/SAGAMORE STAFF)