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'A Really Fun, Festive Time': Students Celebrate Lunar New Year

Observers of the Lunar New Year across Harvard's campus ushered in the Year of the Tiger Tuesday by going on excursions to Chinatown, making traditional desserts, and planning celebration dinners.
Observers of the Lunar New Year across Harvard's campus ushered in the Year of the Tiger Tuesday by going on excursions to Chinatown, making traditional desserts, and planning celebration dinners. By Ryan N. Gajarawala
By Ella L. Jones and Monique I. Vobecky, Crimson Staff Writers

Observers of the Lunar New Year across Harvard’s campus ushered in the Year of the Tiger Tuesday by going on excursions to Chinatown, making traditional desserts, and planning celebration dinners.

Linda K. Lin ’24, social chair for the Harvard-Radcliffe Asian American Association, said for East Asian students, this holiday is an exciting time to celebrate their cultural heritage.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for many cultures — probably more East Asian cultures — to get together and celebrate and have activities,” Lin said. “It is a really fun, festive time for community.”

Kirkland House resident Joanna Boyland ’23 said that growing up, celebrations of the holiday often involved gatherings of hundreds of people.

“We’d have a potluck, and then people would demonstrate dancing or various other things,” Boyland said. “Little kids would sing, and they would do performing arts and eat food.”

The College’s social distancing protocols prevented student groups from hosting events with large gatherings this year, but the celebrations continued on campus in various forms. In Kirkland House, Boyland made a traditional Lunar New Year dish for 100 of her housemates.

“This year I was recruited last minute by HoCo to make some nian gao, which is Chinese sticky rice pudding,” Boyland said.

Angie D. Shin ’23, co-president of the Asian American Womxn’s Association, said that despite not being raised in a “super heritage-rich” household, she would celebrate this Lunar New Year in Boston.

“I’m definitely getting some takeout from Chinatown with my block and linkmates,” she said.

But she acknowledged Covid-19 has restricted AAWA’s festivities.

“If Covid wasn't happening, we'd probably be in the middle of planning some kind of huge part-Asians Lunar New Year event right now,” Shin said. “Hopefully we can do that in years to come.”

AAWA plans on hosting a Lunar New Year celebration and dinner on Feb. 6, featuring foods from several cultures that celebrate the holiday.

“It’s just going to be some fun music, getting to know one another, and trying to replicate a little bit of that community energy,” Lin said.

Shin said she hopes for the holiday to become more well-known in future years.

“I definitely look towards a future where that’s a little bit more equitable and where people of color can find rest throughout the year, beyond just white holidays,” Shin said.

“Take today to rest and pat yourself on the back for a good former lunar year and appreciate yourself,” she added.

—Staff writer Monique I. Vobecky can be reached at monique.vobecky@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Ella L. Jones can be reached at ella.jones@thecrimson.com.

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CollegeStudent GroupsStudent LifeEthnic or Cultural GroupsHoliday