Groups come together to celebrate lunar New Year

by Brady Averill

Jade Yip got a small taste of home on Tuesday.

Yip, a student studying abroad from Singapore, attended the Lunar New Year Festival in Coffman Union’s Great Hall. Several Asian countries, including Singapore, celebrate the lunar New Year.

“It’s a very big event at home, and here, it’s totally different,” Yip said.

The Minnesota Asian-American Collegians, Vietnamese Student Association and Korean Student Association organized the festival. It was the first time the three groups came together to celebrate the New Year.

Before, the groups celebrated individually, said Simon Pham, Vietnamese Student Association adviser.

The lunar New Year is also known as the Chinese New Year. It is a two-week celebration that begins on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar and ends 15 days later. China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam celebrate the holiday.

By having the three groups organize the festival together, they could reach out to the greater University community, said Tran Huynh, former president of the Vietnamese Student Association. When the groups celebrate individually, the people who show up for events are usually Asian or Asian-American, organization leaders said.

“Maybe it’s time for us to show all University of Minnesota students (our culture),” Huynh said.

Lam Nguyen, a finance and marketing student, performed in a lion/dragon dance early in the afternoon.

Nguyen said the food and number of people who showed up impressed him.

But one of the goals of the event was to reach beyond the Asian community, he said, and he wished the groups would have advertised the event more.

“I just wished more people from the University would attend,” he said.

That way, they can learn more about different Asian cultures and be “enlightened,” he said.

Lan Luu, president of the Minnesota Asian-American Collegians, said the group’s foremost goal was to educate.

“We want to share what we value with everyone else,” she said.

She said the festival demonstrated Asian tradition.

Minneapolis does not have a Chinatown like San Francisco or New York, Luu said, so the New Year celebration is not as visible here. Tuesday’s event was just a small example of how people “really” celebrate the New Year, she said.

Sophomore Lauren Bisanz said she always hears about

interesting and fun events at the University but never attends them. Tuesday was different.

She and sophomore Jessica Shoemaker said they learned about how people celebrate the New Year, looked at exhibits and ate ethnic food.

Both said they were happy they attended.

As for Yip, she said she will continue to celebrate the lunar New Year today by wearing red. The color means good luck, she said.