Fireworks over the bell tower at Lincoln Academy’s Lunar New Year celebration.
By William Doan
Like Christmas in America and Western countries, Lunar New Year is the biggest traditional celebration in some Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. On these days, people in the families will gather, reunite and celebrate a lot of activities together. A week before the New Year, people are very excited, go shopping and decorate their houses ready for a huge storm of guests and relatives visiting. New Year Eve is one of the most important days for every family. It would be one of the very few days the whole family can sit together in a table for the best meal of the year. This is the time for each family member to share with each other their highlights of the past year and their goals for the year coming up. On Lunar New Year, families to go to the pagoda to pray and hope for luck to accomplish the goals they set for new year. Everyone is always smiling and wishes for each other the best of luck, giving each other lucky money in a red envelope because red represents luck.
As a young teenager, although I have different perspective of Lunar New Year every year, this is always the best time of the year in my mind. When I was smaller, I could not describe how happy I am when receiving the lucky money in the red envelope from many many people. I could buy more toys, more legos and snacks. When I am older now and studying far away from home, Lunar New Year brought me a mixing feeling of happiness and homesick. I miss my families in Vietnam. I miss the time shopping and decorating my house with beautiful flowers and pictures. I miss all the traditions and food I enjoy during the whole week of no school.
As usual, Lincoln Academy celebrates Lunar New Year as an annual event in the residential program. This year, the celebration was organized by the residential community with the participation of local volunteers. Proctors, as known as student leaders in the dorm, had their first meeting discussing plan for the Lunar New Year celebration more than a month in advance. We divided the team into two groups: dinner group and PR group. Dinner group was responsible for making the menu, buying the ingredients and cooking the dinners with help from students and the community. PR group is responsible for broadcasting the event to school through morning announcements, inviting students to participate in making dumplings and join the dinner. All the details for menu and PR plan was finished a week before the big celebration.
A week before the dinner, Monday to Thursday, there were several trips to the YMCA to make dumplings and cooking in the dining commons at Lincoln Academy. On Tuesday, a group of five dorm students went to the Y to make the community lunch. We joined the cooking class to make wontons, onion pancakes and Japanese salad. In addition to cooking lunch, we also shared personal stories about Lunar New Year memories in each countries while enjoying the meal. Friday after school, we invited the community to participate in helping making dinner and decorating in the dining common. It was a great chance for the residential students to share cultures, diversity from where they are from. It is also a great time to make friends, chat and know more about each other.
This year was the best Lunar New Year meal of my three New Years in America. At dinner, we served a lot of pork, shrimp and vegetables dumplings along with chicken spring rolls, rice, onion pancakes, ice cream, and drinks. Pork dumplings were my favorite dish in the dinner. Music was also an element that added to the success of the celebration. We played traditional New Year Chinese and Vietnamese music throughout the dinner. After dinner, there were amazing fireworks on the softball field. Students could watch fireworks warmly from the windows in the dining commons.
The celebration went really well with great effort from everyone preparing, cooking before and after the event. This year, we also greeted a lot of guests from the local communities and faculty to join the dinner with us. Everyone really enjoyed the dinner, which had the feeling of Lunar New Year at home.
William Doan is a Lincoln Academy senior from Vietnam. His weekly show, The Late Saturday Night with William Doan, can be seen on YouTube.