Author: Laura Bertocci
The Chinese Culture Club (CCC) and the Korean American Students Association (KASA) hosted a lion dance in the quad last Wednesday and provided dinner for students in the Newcomb lounge on Thursday to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Throughout the week, these clubs set up a display of the Sheng xiao, known in the U.S. as the Chinese zodiac, in the Cooler and arranged for the Marketplace to serve Korean and Chinese food for lunch on Feb. 12.
The Lunar New Year marks the first month of the lunar calendar. The holiday is one of the most important traditions in eastern countries, during which families gather to look forward to the year ahead. Often referred to as Chinese New Year, there is a misconception that this holiday is restricted to China. KASA president Jamie Min said “[One of our goals is] spreading awareness. In so many places in the world people are celebrating. We just wanted to let the Oxy community know what’s going on.” The holiday is celebrated in countries all throughout eastern Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and even the Philippines.
A traditional rendition of the Chinese Lion Dance was the main event of the Lunar New Year celebrations. On Wednesday dancers inside of large, colorful costumes mimicked the movement of a lion to the beat of seven star drums to celebrate the start of the new year. The CCC brought in the dancers from the The Immortals Lion Dance Group in Monterrey, CA to perform in the quad.
Traditionally, the lion dances provided entertainment to imperial courts in historic China. The Lion Dance is typical of Chinese festivities.
“Celebrations are very public in China, whereas in Korea its more of a family gathering. It is a celebration of everyone getting together, and if anything they have an instrument playing,” said Min.
According to KASA member Joanne Kang (sophomore), Korean-American families celebrate the holiday by coming together and eating a large meal, followed by a bow of respect, saebae, from children to elders. The elders give children red envelopes filled with money to spend in the year to come. The KASA and the CCC brought some of these traditions to Oxy in order to share their culture with the rest of the student body.
On Thursday night the two clubs hosted a dinner in the Newcomb common room. Chinese and Korean dishes were served, including Korean chapchea noodles, Korean BBQ, Chinese rice noodles with pork, and pad thai. Traditional drinks included Shikye, which is similar to a Korean horchata. The turnout was extensive.
“There were so many people there,” said Sarah Spinuzzi (first-year). “The food was gone within a half hour.”
Additionally, by request of the club leaders, the Marketplace chefs prepared Chinese and Korean food for lunch on Friday. The menu included Korean-style stir fry, Chinese fried rice noodles with beef and vegetable chow mein. This was the first time the Marketplace adjusted its menu for the Lunar New Year.
The CCC and KASA organized a display of the Lunar Calendar and its corresponding animals in the Tiger Cooler. People are associated with one of 12 animals from the Zodiac calendar depending on their year of birth. Different Zodiac animals connote different personality traits derived from mythology.
“It’s something you can really relate to . . . especially for students not involved in the culture,” said Min.
The CCC and KASA utilized the Lunar New Year to share their cultures with the Oxy community. “People who are either Asian or interested in these things are more aware of it, whereas the general public doesn’t really know,” Min said. “I want to get more people into this stuff.”
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