Students Celebrate New Year

Final Exams Delay Commemoration of Chinese Holiday

From feasting on traditional Chinese delicacies to enduring ongoing academic angst, Harvard students spent the first days of the Chinese New Year in a variety of ways.

The Chinese New Year, which began on Saturday, was a source of disappointment for some students, who had to remain sequestered in Lamont Library. For others, it is a reason to celebrate by taking the night off to go to Chinatown.

The two-week celebration is based on the lunar calendar and traditionally falls between late January and early February. It is celebrated primarily in China but is also observed by some in Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, where there has been a Chinese cultural influence.

The Chinese New Year means various things to various people. Traditional rituals include gifts to children of money in red envelopes whose color is believed to bring good luck.

For Celeste M. K. Yuen '95, the Chinese New Year means eating gao, a sticky, dense pudding that her grandmother makes for the entire family.


"Eating the pudding is supposed to give health and good luck for the year," said Yuen, a Crimson editor. "In addition, the new year represents a time to begin again by doing something as simple as cleaning the house or getting a hair cut or as important as resolving old conflicts."

Other traditions include paying homage to ancestors with offerings of fruit and chicken, according to Lawrence C. Cheung '94, president of the Harvard Hong Kong Club.

Many Asian students do not have the luxury of celebrating the new year at home with their family. Because the new year falls during final exams, students do not have the time to celebrate as fully as they might wish.

"Chinese New Year for Harvard students is a conflict because of reading period," said Yuen.

"Although the first weekend of the New Year was relatively uneventful for Harvard students, some did celebrate the occasion," said Cheung.

Several celebrations are being planned for the near future. On February 4, Adams House will host its annual Chinese New Year banquet, complete with dancers and a re-enactment of a traditional battle between a lion and a dragon. The Adams event will also include banners, Chinese symbols, and fireworks outside.

On February 6, the Asian American Association will host a conference entitled "Reflections," presenting Asian American perspectives on such topics as anti-Asian violence and homosexuality within the Asian community. The keynote speaker of the event will be Steve Park, from the television show "In Living Color."

The Chinese Students Association will present a performance of the martial art Tai Chi in Sanders Theater.

Finally, the Harvard Hong Kong Club will participate in an intercollegiate banquet comprised of the Hong Kong clubs of Boston University, Wellesley, Tufts, and Brown University on February 6.