Jacqueline Wong

Asian students at Memorial University (MUN) and around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year on Friday. In most of Asian countries, such as South Korea, Malaysia, and China, Lunar New Year is celebrated as an important festival for getting together with family.

Since Lunar New year is during the spring, it is also called the “Spring Festival.” Lunar New Year celebrations across Asia have distinct traditions that make them unique.

In South Korea, many people go shopping for new clothes, which they wear when visiting family. South Korean families also prepare a traditional dish called “teok-guk”, which is rice-cake soup prepared with slices of rice-cake, beef, and eggs. The Lunar New Year in South Korea also lasts the first three days, while in other countries the Lunar New Year can last two weeks. Hyoeun Kim, a MUN student from South Korea, said, “It is quite hard to celebrate the holiday in a traditional way in Canada, since my family members are all in Korea.”

Ivena Hon, a student from Malaysia, said, “We usually go to church and watch the lion dance during the Lunar New Year. We also prepare the big meal and eat with the whole family.” Hon thinks that Lunar New Year is also an important part of Malaysian culture. “If we want to preserve our culture, have to keep doing it or else, we will lose it,” Hon said.

Hon has been in Canada for a year and a half and she lives with her sisters. “It is hard to celebrate in Canada because I don’t really have family here and the atmosphere is different.” Malaysia also celebrates the first three days, as well as the last day of the Lunar New Year (which is also Chinese Valentine’s Day).

In China, people celebrate the Lunar New Year in a different way. Jin Chen, a student from Si Chuan, China, said the Lunar New Year is a family gathering time because the rest of his family will return home. Chen also said that the Lunar New Year is very important to the Chinese people because it is the only time they can gather with family and friends. When Chen goes back to his hometown, he usually plays mah-jong, which is a tile-based game developed in China. “Lunar New Year is [about] gathering around family and friends. I feel I have enjoyable time every year,” Chen said. Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year for fifteen days; each of the days has a different meaning. The last day of the Lunar New Year is same in Malaysia and China.

Chen is also the president of Chinese Youth Association (CYA) at MUN. He said he realized that many exchange students at MUN live alone and sometimes can get homesick during the festival. This year, the Chinese Youth Association wanted to make students feels like they were home for the Lunar New Year, so they will be hosting a Lunar New Year Celebration. The event will feature a buffet and a concert with traditional Chinese instrumental bands. For more information, contact cyamun@hotmail.com.

The Hong Kong Students’ Association and Japanese Culture Club will also host “East Asian Cultural Day” on February 16 from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm at University Center, so stop by to welcome in the year of the dog.