UAA launches Lunar New Year with cultural games and food

The 2023 Lunar New Year ushered in the Year of the Rabbit and the anticipated welcoming of spring. While this holiday, which began on Jan. 22, is celebrated at the start of the lunar calendar, it honors the various deities that people across many Asian countries worship.

Within the zodiac, the rabbit represents intellect and cautiousness. This year is designated as a time of rest, introspection and empathy. On top of that, this year is marked by the water element, which means everyone should go with the flow. The goal of this year should be to focus on oneself and work smarter, not harder. To all those who were born in the Year of the Rabbit, this means practicing extra caution as actions are amplified under the sign.

Last Wednesday, the United Asian Association (UAA) hosted its own Lunar New Year celebration in J. Lee’s. The room was packed with people excited to take the chance to usher in the new year on campus.

Egg rolls are a staple of Lunar New Year celebrations. Photo courtesy of Missvain, Wikipedia.

They started by serving various Asian foods, including egg rolls, dumplings and almond cookies. Egg rolls and dumplings have significant meanings when it comes to Lunar New Year, as they both represent wealth. Egg rolls resemble gold bars while dumplings resemble the shape of an ingot.

For drinks, they served Calpico, a Japanese soft drink, in three different flavors: strawberry, mango and white peach. They also served aloe vera juice.

Once people grabbed their food, the UAA hosted games. The first game was bingo in which each spot on the card was related to Lunar New Year. A majority of the spaces were filled with the zodiac animals, but a few included other aspects of the holiday. One space included a Chinese yuanbao, a gold or silver ingot that was the currency of ancient China.

After a couple of rounds of bingo, the event transitioned into a Kahoot game. Everyone crowded around the screen as they were quizzed on various topics ranging from Lunar New Year fun facts to the identities of some K-Pop idols. One question asked about the identity of a Pokémon. While squares were slowly flipped over to reveal more of the image, it ended up being pretty clear that the Pokémon was Charmander.

At the end of the event, the UAA informed attendees that they would be taking donations for all of those affected by the incident at Monterey Park. Attendees could donate however much they wanted, and, in turn, could take home a lucky Lunar New Year charm. This was connected to their previous event, a candlelight vigil, where they advertised GoFundMe pages for donations.

While people went to the event for different reasons, varying from general interest to wanting free food, the room was packed with people enthusiastic about the holiday. The UAA combined fun with education about the culture surrounding Lunar New Year. Take some time to reflect and think through your behavior, and have a happy Year of the Rabbit!

Photo by Peyton Bortner