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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Student groups host Lunar New Year celebrations

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ASA executive board held Lunar New Year events on both campuses. PHOTO: ZAHLI BHAYROO ’25/THE HAWK

A Lunar New Year celebration was held on both St. Joe’s campuses earlier this month, with attendees ringing in the Year of the Rabbit, or Cat, with an array of activities.

The celebrations, held Feb. 3 on Hawk Hill and Feb. 4 at University City, were a collaborative effort between both Hawk Hill and UCity’s Asian Student Associations (ASA) and the newly formed Vietnamese Student Association (VSA). 

In the Chinese zodiac calendar, each year represents a different animal. For many who celebrate Lunar New Year, this year is the Year of the Rabbit. For celebrants who follow the Vietnamese zodiac calendar, this is the Year of the Cat. 

Students who attended the celebrations sampled food representing different Asian cuisines, heard presentations about the year’s zodiac animals, created red envelopes and enjoyed a lion dance performance. 

The Philadelphia Suns, a nonprofit organization based in Chinatown, performed the dance, which is thought to bring luck and prosperity for the new year.

Sarah Rivera, a Drexel University student and member of the Philadelphia Suns, said Lunar New Year celebrations are an important time of “gathering and unity.”

 “At least for me and my relationship with the Suns and doing lion dances every Lunar New Year, I get to see faces that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Rivera said.

Lunar New Year is a celebration that marks a new year in the lunar calendar, which is determined by the complete cycles of the moon. While the first celebration was thought to have originated 3,500 years ago during the Shang Dynasty and remains an important celebration in China, Lunar New Year is now celebrated all over the world.

Lion dancers interact with audience. PHOTO: KELLY SHANNON ’24/THE HAWK

Kenneth Chang ’26, said he has fond memories of Lunar New Year celebrations with his family.

“Typically, celebrations are a few weeks long, but for the first night we got together, we had a big family dinner,” Chang said. “That’s something you’ll find in any Chinese family: many, many dishes. I think we had like 12 different dishes. It was a huge spread, and one of the biggest family traditions in our house.”

Chang said he also enjoyed his family’s tradition of making dumplings together during Lunar New Year.

“Dumplings, if you’ve ever made them, are a very time-consuming task,” Chang said. “So it’s something really nice to do; everyone sitting down at the table, making dumplings together, talking. It’s a family bonding activity.”

For students whose families do not celebrate Lunar New Year, the celebrations on campus offered a way to connect with their heritage. 

Ruby Davenport ’25, who is ASA secretary and of Chinese descent, was adopted into a white family. 

 “I don’t know a whole lot about the history or celebrate it every year,” Davenport said. “So it’s nice to come here and be able to be a part of ASA and celebrate it.” 

Ann Nguyen ’25, president of the VSA, said she started the organization last semester when she saw there was no club that represented the many Vietnamese students on the UCity campus.

“We want to be able to spread Vietnamese culture and hopefully be able to do more collaborations when we are more well known to the student body,” Nguyen said.

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