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Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

AAA discusses New Year celebrations for Asian communities

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Courtesy of NBC
February marks a month of tradition and celebration for the Asian community

The month of February is an important time of celebration and significant traditions for many Asian communities. The pandemic has changed how some may celebrate festivals like Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) this month, but for Suffolk students, the holidays are still a time that many look forward to.

The Asian American Association (AAA) at Suffolk University discussed New Year traditions and celebrations in 2021.

This year, the New Year festivals began on Feb. 12 and end on Feb. 25. They differ in dates and by those who celebrate them, as Lunar New Year celebrations are known to take place on the first new moon after the winter solstice. Chinese New Year is typically celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The celebrations usually last 15-23 days and take place from late January to mid-February.

One of the most common traditions among all of the holidays is visiting and being with family. Many travel back to Asia in order to celebrate with friends and family there, or celebrate the holidays together in the States. 

Suffolk junior Matthew Deng celebrates Chinese New Year with his family and discusses the holiday traditions that go with it, such as receiving red envelopes and oranges with wishes of good fortune. 

 Deng usually spends the day traveling to see family and eating foods, such as swordfish, to commemorate this time as one for culture and kinship.

“One thing I see that virtually every family eats are dumplings,” said Deng. “I used to go over to my grandma’s house to make dumplings with her and other family members. We would use that time to catch up and spend time with family.”

There are some superstitions. Deng describes these as cleaning the house and taking out the trash on New Year’s Eve rather than New Year’s day. This is specifically done to ensure that good fortune is not thrown away. 

Not only do families focus on those who are present, but they also celebrate and pay their respects to those who have passed. AAA president and Suffolk senior, Anna Nguyen, said that families cook large meals, worship at an altar and say prayers for all relatives.

“I think that’s what Lunar New Year is really all about. It’s about connecting both ties of all your family and being appreciative of what you have and where you come from,” said Nguyen. 

The COVID-19 pandemic plays a vital role in determining the nature of this year’s festivities, as many people are unable to travel and see loved ones during the holidays.

Underclassmen representative for AAA, Jasmine Francoeur, examines her traditions with Korean New Year, otherwise known as Seollal. Since she does not have a lot of extended family in the U.S., her family sticks to small gatherings. 

“We eat the rice cake soup and longevity noodles and exchange the red envelopes,” said Francoeur. “Sometimes we even wear traditional clothes to get into the traditional side of things to feel more connected to it.”

The pandemic not only affects holidays such as this. It has also changed the atmosphere for AAA and how the organization can function. As the largest club on campus, many of AAA’s in-person events help to maintain their budget — something that has been harder to do during a time of social distancing. However, the organization has used this time to get creative.

“We’re pushing the annual cultural show to March and have decided to hold a cultural week instead of a cultural day. We also plan on holding a virtual fashion show as well as small discussions in order to start having more conversations,” said Nguyen. 

COVID-19 has caused a surge in racism toward the Asian community. Because of this, AAA’s goals for these discussions are to educate others. 

“I hope in this post COVID world, these discussions can take that negativity and turn it into something more positive,” said Francoeur.

With the festivals beginning, AAA has also decided to release care packages to the first 200 Suffolk students to sign for the AAA Care Package Sign Up. This package will contain goodies such as keychains, AAA customized masks and other COVID-19 friendly items. 

The organization is always accepting new members who are interested in Asian cultures. For more information about AAA, email [email protected]

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Olivia Acevedo, World News Editor | she/her
Olivia is a senior majoring in print/web journalism while double minoring in advertising and environmental studies. When she isn’t sprinting from place to place on campus, she likes to spend her time with her dog and attend sporting events. Olivia is originally from West Springfield, Massachusetts and has a passion for animals and history.  Follow Olivia on Twitter @OliviaAcevedo12 Email her at [email protected]

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AAA discusses New Year celebrations for Asian communities