Lunar New Year: Year of the pig

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Lunar New Year: Year of the pig

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Lunar New Year approaches, bringing with it family reunions, traditional foods and live entertainment. Many East Asian countries are known to celebrate the Lunar New Year, each adapting their own unique traditions. Every year the date changes as it is reliant on the moon phases; this year it falls on Feb. 5th.

“It’s the year of the pig,” senior Brooke Bobetich said. “(The pig) symbolizes (wealth). It also embodies being reserved, much like the rat.”

The new year links ideas such as 风水, or feng shui, and 五行, or element of your birth. This makes the new year important to those who follow cultural ideas; others simply enjoy the celebration aspect.

Lunar New Year leads to weeks, or even a month, of vacation in China so that family members can get together.

“(This) means I get to see my family,” junior Teresa Pan said. “When I was small, everyone would come to my house and I got to see everyone, but now I am in America and everyone else is in China. (So while my extended family can no longer visit,) it means I get to see my dad because he comes every new year.”

Gifts are exchanged on Lunar New Year; most often children would receive red envelopes, or red packets.

“A red packet is when the elders give to the young (packets of money),” Pan said. “It symbolizes that you will be good and you will be successful with everything you (do), and this year will be your year.”

A common symbol people display during Lunar New Year is 福, a word meaning merriment.

“People turn that symbol upside down,” Pan said. “They paste it at the door for luck. It shows that 福到 (trans.) merriment is here. A (homophone) can be interpreted as you throwing your merriment away.”

Some people eat 汤园 during Lunar New Year.

“汤园的偕音是团园,” Pan said. “一家人可以团团圆圆的在一起吃汤园. (trans.) (Some say the reason for eating) Tang Yuan, (a sticky pastry ball), (is because it) sounds like Tuan Yuan, (which means family getting together). Family can happily get together and eat Tang Yuan (during the holidays).”

Dumplings are another staple food of Lunar New Year.

“We eat dumplings,” Pan said. “饺子的偕音是叫子,意思是把你的孩子叫回来. (trans.) (Some think that is because) dumplings sounds like Jiao Zi, which means ‘call your children back home (for the holiday).’”

Despite living in America, some Asian-Americans still try to connect with the holiday. Activities ranging from going to lantern festivals, to attending local shows at UNC, to watching the televised Chinese New Year special can help to keep culture.

Even so, it can be difficult to get the full experience of Lunar New Year in America.

“It’s not as exciting as it probably should be,” junior Emma Jia said. “Because we don’t celebrate it as much (or to the extent) as people in China (or East Asia in general).”

For Asian-Americans, Lunar New Year can mean more than spiritual beliefs, entertainment, celebration, and a new leaf–it can also be a tie to a culture that refuses to be forgotten.

“Holding onto culture is very important,” junior Krystyna Derezinska-Choo said. “It helps us remember who we are (and) where we are from while living in a world that sometimes lets us forget our roots. Lunar New Year is an important time in Chinese culture (as) it brings us together to (carry) in the new luck of the coming year.”

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