Menlo Celebrates The Lunar New Year

January 31, 2023


Kevin Chan

In the Upper School gym, Mandarin students perform a lion dance during the Lunar New Year Assembly. Photo courtesy of Kevin Chan

Menlo hosted its first-ever Lunar New Year assembly on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, marks the beginning of a new year on the lunar calendar based on the monthly cycles of the moon phases.

This year is the Year of the Rabbit, one of the 12 Chinese animal zodiac signs, which corresponds to the lunar calendar. The rabbit zodiac symbolizes peace and prosperity. 

Menlo’s Asian Affinity Alliance group organized the 2023 Lunar New Year assembly according to junior and club leader Kaavya Baliga. According to Baliga, the assembly was planned to include “personal stories, games, performances and fun.” Along with that, guest speakers talked about their festivities on Lunar New Year and experiences in affinity groups like Mixed@Menlo.

According to junior Abi Kalaw, another AAA leader, some guest speakers spoke about affinity groups specific to the Menlo community. “The Mandarin teacher, Ms. Chen, [is] organizing the lion dance, so we’re going to be doing that as our ending to the assembly,” Kalaw said. According to Kalaw, the lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance meant to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.

Junior Chloe Lee spends Lunar New Year cooking and enjoying Chinese food with her family: noodles, dumplings and mochi. A few days prior to the new year, Lee always makes resolutions, crafts red lantern decorations and does spring cleaning with her family.

Similar to Lee, cooking with family plays a big part in sophomore Rena Kim’s annual Lunar New Year festivities, too. “Usually we celebrate Lunar New Year by making a bunch of food. We don’t normally decorate, but we create a lot of like traditional dishes that I would make with my grandparents back in Korea,” sophomore Rena Kim said. 

Freshman Jade Yoo especially loves receiving Korean fortune bags, a tradition with a similar concept to Chinese red envelopes. Korean fortune bags contain money inside, and elders give them for good luck and best wishes in the year ahead.

For Kalaw, Lunar New Year is especially fun to celebrate in her Mandarin class at Menlo. “Every year for Lunar New Year we make dumplings,” Kalaw said. “Students bring the fillings and the wrapping, and we all just make it in class.” The Upper School Mandarin students also join together with Mandarin students in the Middle School, so that they can all cook together. According to Kalaw, this year’s Mandarin classes made paper lanterns as well as rabbit-themed paper decorations.

Kim and Yoo define Lunar New Year as a period for new beginnings and fresh starts. “I think that Lunar New Year is a holiday that encompasses so many different cultures, and I think that it’s really important to recognize each of them,” Yoo said. “I think that raising awareness for them will show the beauty and traditions of different cultures.”

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Photo of Eleanor Kinder
Eleanor Kinder, Social Media & Marketing Director

Number of years in The Coat of Arms: 2

Favorite aspect of journalism: learning more about the community around me and getting to share it

Interests outside of school: volleyball, hanging out with my friends, and spending time with my dog

Class of 2026

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