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University Preparing to Celebrate Chinese Culture During Lunar New Year
The Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, is a time of hope, representing an opportunity for Asian people everywhere to gather with family and friends to usher out the old year while welcoming in a new year teeming with good health, luck, prosperity and opportunity.
Among the many rites of the Lunar New Year, parents, grandparents and older family members will often hand out red envelopes containing money to younger family members as a way to usher in the new year on a prosperous note.
For the nearly 1,500 Syracuse University students who identify as Asian, the Lunar New Year also represents a chance to display the pride they feel in their culture and heritage to the campus community.
This year—the Year of the Rabbit—the Lunar New Year begins on Sunday, Jan. 22, and there are celebrations planned by the Chinese Union, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and other groups to showcase what it means to be Chinese.
Another staple of the Lunar New Year is the lighting and hanging of lanterns, which can symbolize letting go of any sadness from the past year while welcoming the new year with happiness and good luck. Like the envelopes, these lanterns are often red to represent more good fortune in the year ahead.
When Joy Chen ’25 was a child growing up in New York City, she fondly recalls gathering with her family and extended family members from across the state. Chen was always on the receiving end of a generous red envelope exchange, and she relished another Lunar New Year tradition: the making of dumplings as a family.
“Those traditions are sacred. Receiving a red envelope is the adult’s way of sending their blessings to the children in the family, hoping they grow up healthy and experience a safe and prosperous New Year,” says Chen, a sophomore marketing management major in the Whitman School.
Before the start of the Fall 2021 semester, Ruohan Xu ’23 founded the Chinese Union to “spread Chinese culture to the Syracuse University community while bringing together the Chinese students” on campus.
It quickly became a passion project for Xu, who felt an obligation from the first time he stepped on campus to help his fellow Chinese students get acclimated to life at Syracuse University.
“This is what I want to do to serve and give back to the community and to the Chinese students who helped me with my journey. I want to do everything I can to help make Syracuse University feel like home,” says Xu, a senior mechanical engineering and applied mathematics major in the iSchool and the College of Arts and Sciences.
The organization’s signature event occurs at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, during its Lunar New Year Celebration. Modeled after China’s Spring Festival Gala, this year’s talent show combines Chinese culture, Asian culture and pop culture, with 15 to 16 acts performing for the campus community.
“The Chinese Union wants to serve as a platform for all Chinese students to hang out with each other, be together and celebrate during this great festival. This is a great way to introduce the Chinese culture to our campus while celebrating what it means to be Chinese,” Xu says.
Chen, a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), is also excited to invite the campus community to her organization’s annual Chinese New Year Gala, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, in the Goldstein Auditorium in the Schine Student Center.
“The Chinese New Year has always been a time for us to come together with our loved ones, whether it’s your family members or your friends, and have fun and enjoy the time spent with each other while celebrating our culture. Our gala will feature people singing, dancing and performing traditional Chinese music. It’s always so fun and we want everyone to come out, learn about our culture and have fun,” Chen says.
Below are some of the Lunar New Year celebrations planned this year:
- Chinese Union Lunar New Year Celebration:
-Saturday, Jan. 21, 6 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center
- Esports Year of the Rabbit Celebration:
-Sunday, Jan. 22, 2-10 p.m., Barnes Center at the Arch Room 046
- A Celebration of Lunar New Year [PDF] (presented by the Center for International Services, Office of Multicultural Affairs, Asian/Asian American Studies and the Newhouse International Students Association):
-Monday, Jan. 23, noon-1 p.m., Food.com at Newhouse 3
- School of Architecture Lunar New Year Celebration:
-Friday, Jan. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Slocum Hall
- Chinese Students and Scholars Association’s Annual Chinese New Year Gala:
-Friday, Jan. 27, 7 p.m., Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center
- Orange After Dark, Sigma Psi Zeta, Center for International Services’ Lunar New Year Celebration:
-Friday, Jan. 27, 10 p.m.-midnight, Schine Student Center, 304 ABC