UCSB Students Celebrate the Lunar New Year

Photo by Samuel Yang | The Bottom Line

Jungah Son

It has been a month since New Year’s Day on Jan. 1, yet the real new year starts now for some people. The Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, was celebrated on Feb. 5 this year. As the name suggests, it is a major holiday in China, as well as many other countries including Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet. The Bottom Line interviewed some of the graduate students on campus who plan on celebrating.

Mengye Liu, a first year statistics graduate student, explains that Chinese people celebrate Lunar New Year for 15 days. Each day has different meanings. She always enjoys eating dumplings and fried meatballs during this holiday.

Although Liu stated that it can be annoying to hear firecracker noises in the late night and early morning, she enjoys celebrating the holiday at home. She explained that celebrating at school in the U.S. is very different than celebrating in her hometown of Xi’an, China. At home, everyone is on vacation, while at school, students sometimes do not have enough time to celebrate. 

Joonho Back, a fifth year graduate student in electrical engineering, says that he typically goes back to his hometown, Seoul, two or three days before the Lunar New Year begins.  Back stated, “My holiday begins with myself clicking on the ticket website as fast as the speed of light on the day tickets are being released.”  

What Back likes most about this holiday is getting to eat the fried food his mother cooks. His grandmother also prepares pork and his family has Korean barbecue together. There are many Korean traditional sweets and cookies as well. 

Although Back enjoys staying in his grandmother’s house, he often feels too lazy to visit other relatives. He stated, “I want to stay in grandma’s house and do nothing during the holiday.”

Anzu Kawazoe, a Japanese second year graduate student in Media Arts and Technology, has no experience with celebrating the Lunar New Year. Japan stopped using the lunar calendar in 1873 and switched to using the solar calendar. Setsubun, a holiday closely associated with the Lunar New Year, was previously thought of as a sort of New Year’s Eve.

Kawazoe explained that Japanese people try to remove oni (Japanese demons) from their house during this time. The way they do this is by throwing beans. They will eat the leftover beans, but they can only eat as many beans as their age.

Since getting together with family is an essential part of this holiday, for these students it is not easy to celebrate the same way as they do in their hometown. To remedy this, some organizations on campus — including Taiwanese American Student Association (TASA), Chinese Student & Scholars Association (CSSA), and the Asian Resource Center — are holding large events to celebrate the Lunar New Year, in order to compensate for the lack of familial atmosphere.

By going to these events, international students, as well as students simply hoping to learn more about the holiday, will be able to explore new traditions by gathering together with friends and meeting new people.