Firecrackers, family reunion, the upside-down word “fu,” and the color red all mark the coming of the Lunar New Year. As a different calendar system from the daily calendar, many Asian countries celebrate a special day on the Lunar calendar, the day when a new year starts. Lunar New Year marks the beginning of a new cycle: whether one is born at the end of a year or in the middle of a hot summer, many countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year follow the tradition of every citizen growing a year older when the new year passes. As a holiday celebrated among multiple Asian countries, different traditions and stories form within the cultures.
While many boarder’s celebrations of their traditions may vary, Stevenson provides students with a combination of traditions and food to celebrate this important holiday. Starting with weekend activities such as crafting calligraphy to put on doors for the Lunar New Year and adorning the dining hall with New Year decorations, boarders sense the importance and appreciation of their culture at school. Prior to the Monday night celebration for the Lunar New Year, students helped to make dumplings in Rosen while enjoying their own traditions and introducing their cultures to others. Finally, students tasted traditional food from various countries during the formal dinner celebration.
Though including a diverse selection of food last year, students have reflected their culture was misrepresented: “I was on the Lunar New Year planning Committee, and we suggested a soup that is super meaningful in the Korean way of celebrating New Year called tteokguk. However, the dish presented at the Monday Night Dinner was not what I expected. I had really high hopes for that Monday night dinner, especially because I provided the recipes and promised that it would be served during this Monday night dinner” (Wonjin Eum 25’). Because of the different cultural backgrounds and lack of experience celebrating Lunar New Year like many borders, though with good intentions, dishes can be done inaccurately.
Taking a sneak peek into the upcoming Lunar New Year Monday night dinner, the planning committee is adapting the suggestions from past years to create a more enjoyable night: “To prevent repeating the same mistakes from last year where cultures are not represented correctly, we're trying our best to actively communicate with Flik and meeting more frequently with them so we can ensure more authentic dishes are being served this year” (Brian Li 25’). Yet challenges are also faced by the Lunar New Year planning committee as not every Asian culture can be appreciated by those from a different cultural background: “We try to be inclusive so everyone can enjoy this celebration, but we are also hurting the culture. I think people should be inclusive and welcoming of the culture and not the culture adapting itself to another group of people” (Brian Li 25’).
While minor mistakes were present last year, improvements are being made through the hard work of the planning committee. This year, once again, Stevenson aims to provide students with a warm and welcoming environment to create more memorable moments.