The year of the monkey was celebrated by Lorain County Community College’s Multicultural Club during their Lunar New Year celebration on Feb. 10. Decorations of vibrant red, heralding longevity and fortune for the upcoming year, attracted the student body to the College Center building.
Ting Zhu, Mandarin instructor, and Sharon Van Houte, associate professor, spearheaded the event. Their goal for the evening was not only to enlighten students on the cultural relevance of the occasion, but to also help them understand that there is more than one way to celebrate the New Year. “I just want the students, faculty, and staff to get some insight into Asia’s cultures and the Lunar New Year because we have another way- a different way to calculate the month,” said Zhu.
The multicultural club created five power point presentations highlighting how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in different countries across Asia. In between presentations, members performed duets in their native languages. Along with visuals, attendees had the opportunity to learn about each country’s traditional Lunar New Year celebrations through themed tables providing snacks and cultural insight.
Celebrated around the world, the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival and the Chinese New Year, symbolizes tradition and time spent with family. In China the Lunar New Year is celebrated from the first day of the first lunar month and lasts for 15 days, allowing employees seven days off work to spend with their families. For many practitioners the holiday is comparable with Christmas. “In most Asian countries we don’t have Christmas so we don’t celebrate it. The Lunar New Year is like Christmas. We all get together and have a family reunion and dinner,” said Zhu. Even though it’s the longest public holiday in China, it’s special for a different reason, giving families a much-needed opportunity to connect. “Usually kids who work far away from home will go back to their family for the Spring Festival,” said Zhu.
Despite the fact that the holiday is known by several different names depending on where in Asia the holiday is being celebrated, the culturally correct term for the holiday is the Lunar New Year. “Most people know it as Chinese New Year and in the past we’ve called it the Asian New Year, but that’s not really correct either because it’s based on the lunar calendar and not all Asian countries celebrate this,” explained Van Houte. Regardless of the name, the Lunar New Year stands not only to celebrate a new year, but good fortune and family.