Lunar New Year Celebrations at Menlo

Mandarin+students+perform+the+lion+dance+in+the+Upper+School+gym+during+assembly.+The+dance+is+said+to+chase+away+evil+spirits+and+bring+fortune+in+the+New+Year.+Photo+courtesy+of+Mingjung+Chen.
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Lunar New Year Celebrations at Menlo

Mandarin students perform the lion dance in the Upper School gym during assembly. The dance is said to chase away evil spirits and bring fortune in the New Year. Photo courtesy of Mingjung Chen.

Mandarin students perform the lion dance in the Upper School gym during assembly. The dance is said to chase away evil spirits and bring fortune in the New Year. Photo courtesy of Mingjung Chen.

Mandarin students perform the lion dance in the Upper School gym during assembly. The dance is said to chase away evil spirits and bring fortune in the New Year. Photo courtesy of Mingjung Chen.

Mandarin students perform the lion dance in the Upper School gym during assembly. The dance is said to chase away evil spirits and bring fortune in the New Year. Photo courtesy of Mingjung Chen.

Alexandra Viret, Staff Writer

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With Lunar New Year coming up on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Mandarin classes, in addition to the Asian Pacific Islander (API) club at Menlo, are planning activities and events to celebrate the holiday.

According to Chinese tradition, festivities preceding the holiday last several days to mark the start of the New Year in accordance to the Lunar Calendar, and it is a time to honor deities, ancestors and the household. 2019 falls on the Year of the Pig in the sequence of 12 zodiac animals on the Lunar Calendar. “China is huge, […] so different places have different traditions, but in general, some of the shared traditions [are] giving out red envelopes or [participating in] the lion dance,” Mandarin teacher Mingjung Chen said.

Many people feel that the most important Lunar New Year custom is putting in the effort of returning home from wherever they are in the world to be with family. “The holiday is important to me because I get to spend time with my family and friends,” sophomore Yvonne Li said.

“Our family gambles on Chinese New Year,” Dean of Student Life Programs Cathy Chen said. “They say that gambling is actually a really good thing to do because you want to get rid of all your bad luck that day so you’ll have good luck for the rest of the year.” Chen also explained her family’s tradition of eating lucky foods, such as rice cakes and fish. The foods are said to be lucky in Chinese culture because the Chinese characters for them are pronounced in the same way as the fortuitous phrase, “abundant year by year.”

Mingjung Chen will be teaching the lion dance to her Mandarin 1 class, while also leading her AP classes in decorating her classroom. She feels that Lunar New Year is China’s biggest and most important holiday. Menlo will hold a Global Expo on Sunday, Mar. 3, where a multitude of cultures, including China’s, will be represented through booths, food and performances. Because this will be a large event, Mingjung Chen is planning on holding a small-scale dumpling wrapping session in the cafeteria for Lunar New Year, as opposed to last year’s larger festival in the CADC.

During the assembly on Tuesday Feb. 5, the API club will give a presentation on the holiday. “I wish there was more attention surrounding the holiday,” Cathy Chen said. “If people thought of it as Christmas, then they would be like, ‘for sure, take the day off,’ but because it’s so foreign, people usually don’t feel that way.”