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Cultural Events Planned For Lunar New Year

Heights Staff

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 01:01

Although Jan. 1 has come and gone, the New Year’s celebrations will continue at Boston College as five of the culture clubs within the Asian Caucus will host a four-day series of events commemorating the Lunar New Year. The holiday, one of the most prominent in many Asian cultures, marks the beginning of a new zodiac calendar and falls on different days depending on lunar cycles, hence its name.

“The best way to describe it in Asia is a combination of Christmas, New Year, July Fourth—that kind of atmosphere,” said Eric Phung, CSOM ’14 and president of the Vietnamese Students Association. “It’s a weeklong celebration. The Lunar New Year is probably the most important holiday in Asian culture.”

Although not every Asian culture celebrates the holiday, many of them do, and so the BC version of Lunar New Year will feature contributions from a host of different cultural clubs. The event was planned through collaboration between the Vietnamese Students Association, Taiwanese Cultural Organization, Chinese Students Association, Korean Students Association, and Southeast Asian Student Association, as well as their respective presidents: Phung; Max Chou, CSOM ’14; Alice Chen, CSOM ’14; Woogeon Kim, A&S ’14; and Benjamin Tan, CSOM ’15.

Given the cultural diversity of its organizers, the event will feature some of the differences between the various types of Lunar New Year celebrations.

“We all do celebrate some aspect of Lunar New Year, but we all celebrate it in a different way, and by collaborating we’re also highlighting the differences,” Phung said. “For example, in Korea it’s more of a quiet, laid-back holiday—you spend time indoors, spend time with your family—while for Vietnamese culture or Chinese culture, it’s more of an outdoor, public holiday.”

The celebrations will begin on Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the Quad. Members of the participating organizations will hand out red envelopes to students, in accordance with tradition.

“Usually in Asian cultures it’s an elderly person, such as a grandpa or grandma, giving you a gift of money in a red envelope, and that’s supposed to signify goodwill,” Phung said. “What we want to do is spread that to the whole campus. We’ll be handing out red envelopes with special gifts inside and also information on the New Year. It’s more to signify the gift-giving aspect of Lunar New Year.”

On Thursday, the organizations will decorate Corcoran Commons in a Lunar New Year style. They will also host a variety show in the Walsh Function Room, featuring the AHANA Collective Theatre acting group and sketch comedy club Asinine.

A lion dance, a dance often performed at Lunar New Year celebrations, will be performed at the third event of the series.

The cultural clubs will come together on Friday to work with Nights on the Heights and Electronic State of Mind (ESM), an electronic music club with an event in the Vanderslice Cabaret Room. ESM will DJ the event, which will feature booths, traditional lanterns, and games from the cultural clubs.

“Friday night we’ll be emulating more of a carnival or festival experience,” Phung said.

The celebration will end on Saturday, Feb. 1.

Although the Lunar New Year week celebrates Asian culture, its organizers emphasize that it is welcome to the entire BC community.

“It’s more based on joy, on getting together with the community in celebration, getting together with old friends and going to lunch or dinner with them,” Phung said. “There are no cultural boundaries to be able to experience this atmosphere, and we wanted to bring this unique experience to Boston College.”  

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