The Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of the lunar calendar with the first new moon of the year. The event is celebrated throughout Asia and each year is represented by one of the 12 Chinese zodiacs, this year’s being the Year of the Rabbit. NC State’s Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA) and Office of Global Engagement are both hosting Lunar New Year celebrations on campus in Talley Student Union.
Maggie Yang, a second-year studying psychology and external vice president of CUSA, said the Lunar New Year is typically celebrated the same way as other winter holidays: visiting family and sharing food and gifts.
“Especially if you are all spread out and live in different states, it is a good time for everybody to come back together and reignite over good food,” Yang said.
Peter Zheng, a fourth-year studying aerospace engineering and the president of CUSA said the Lunar New Year is often exclusively associated with Chinese culture, although most Asian cultures celebrate the occasion.
“In the past, we felt like some people felt like they couldn't go to the event because they're not Chinese,” Zheng said. “I don't think it's this spirit of the Lunar New Year. It’s supposed to be a celebration. You're supposed to get together with friends and family and enjoy yourself.”
Yang said many other cultural organizations were invited to the event, and they will host games and activities that their cultures use to celebrate the Lunar New Year, providing students with an opportunity to become connected with students outside of their own circles.
“It's a good opportunity to meet more people,” Yang said. “Because we invite so many different clubs, they can bring their own members and they get to interact with other club members from other organizations.”
Zheng said CUSA’s last Lunar New Year celebration was reduced in capacity and required proof of COVID-19 vaccination and masks, due to record COVID-19 infections at the beginning of 2022. He is hopeful that this year’s event will draw more attraction due to the previous success of the organization’s Mid-Autumn Festival event.
Kemmia Ghodrat, a fourth-year studying sociology and programming and marketing intern at NC State’s Office of Global Engagement, said the success of last year’s Lunar New Year celebration pushed the Office of Global Engagement to double the size of this year’s event. Both the Mountains and Piedmont ballrooms in Talley Student Union will be used to host the celebration.
“Last year, we had about 250 people show up, and this year, we doubled the size of the ballroom,” Ghodrat said. “We've been getting back on our feet and getting back into the groove of things. Since we've been able to be masked less and have less restrictions, [we’re able to] have more people in a really large area.”
Ghodrat said craft, game and activity stations, a buffet and a performance by KPACK, NC State’s K-pop dance group, will be present at this year’s event. The first 100 people to enter will be admitted into a raffle for a global prize pack.
Ghodrat said the Office of Global Engagement’s goal is to educate NC State students about cultures they may be unfamiliar with, using events such as the Lunar New Year celebration to provide a greater appreciation for other cultures.
“We're trying to get you engaged with the community members who do celebrate these events, who can be there to sort of explain to you what is important to them about this holiday,” Ghodrat said. “If you're from Raleigh, if you're from North Carolina, you only get a bubble of experiences. The more we can engage with cultures that are outside of our realm that we've never experienced before, the more open-minded we are, the more empathetic we become, the more we're able to enjoy other people's way of life.”
CUSA is hosting its Lunar New Year Celebration in Talley Student Union’s Coastal Ballroom Saturday, Jan. 14 from 3-5 p.m. Admission is free for members. Non-members who RSVP through the organization's Google Form pay $5 for entry. Non-members who do not RSVP pay $7 for entry. Admission includes snacks, drinks, stickers and raffle tickets.
The Office of Global Engagement is hosting its celebration in the Mountains and Coastal Ballrooms Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 7-9 p.m. RSVPs from the office’s website, along with student or staff IDs, are required for entry.