One of Joanna Zhao’s favorite traditions while celebrating Lunar New Year is sitting around the kitchen table at home in New York City, making dumplings with her family and hearing about traditions from her parents’ childhoods in China.
“Celebrating the new year, I get to learn about a lot of traditions that they would typically do when they were growing up,” says Zhao, president of the Chinese Student Association at Northeastern. “I also get to eat good food with them.”
Zhao and fellow students at Northeastern will be sharing the good food and other traditions of the Lunar New Year this upcoming weekend, as student organizations gather for galas and feasting to welcome the spring.
The Lunar New Year is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar, which combines the lunar and solar calendars. The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China, which welcomes the Year of the Dragon. Lunar New Year is also celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam (where it is known as Tet) and countries with significant overseas Chinese populations.
For more than 3,000 years, Lunar New Year was the beginning of a new year in the Chinese calendar, marking the new moon (when the moon is not visible in the night sky) nearest the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox — sometime between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, according to National Geographic. China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1912, however, and the holiday was reintroduced as the “Spring Festival” in the late 20th century, according to National Geographic.
Today the holiday is celebrated with family and friends, and includes feasting, fireworks, parties and parades. The official date of the holiday this year is Feb. 10.
But the parties begin this weekend.
On Saturday, a celebration of Tet will be hosted by Vietnamese student associations at Northeastern, Tufts, Boston College and Boston University. The event will be held at BU.
Sunday features two parties on Northeastern’s Boston campus.
The Northeastern Hong Kong Student Association and Vietnamese Student Association will collaborate for a Lunar New Year celebration in the Curry Ballroom from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. An RSVP is required to attend the undergraduate-only event.
This event will be followed by a celebration at the Fenway Center hosted by the Northeastern Asian Student Union and the university’s Chinese Student Association. Again, an RSVP is required and the dress is formal. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and continues until 9 p.m.
Zhao says that traditional food, crafts and games, and student performances will be highlights of the event.
On Wednesday, the Northeastern Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service will host a Lunar New Year Dinner Dialogue from 6 to 7 p.m. with the Asian American Center at the university. The event will be held in 201 Ell Hall.
Alumni will also gather to celebrate, with a Feb. 9 event in Seattle, and events on Feb. 10 in Boston and New York City. There are also alumni events scheduled for Feb. 25 in Beijing and on March 9 in Guangzhou, China.
And although Zhao won’t be at home with her family around the kitchen table this weekend, she said she is glad to have the opportunity to celebrate the new year at Northeastern.
“Now in college, I get to spend it with friends too,” Zhao says.