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The Dartmouth
March 4, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Campus organizations celebrate Lunar New Year

Students were invited to participate in various cultural activities, including a dragon parade that took place at Collis Center on Feb. 11.

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The Dartmouth Chinese Culture Society and the Hopkins Center for the Arts hosted events this past weekend in celebration of Lunar New Year, which took place on Feb. 10. Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated across Asia to mark the start of a new year in the lunar calendar, with traditions that include wearing the color red, giving and receiving red envelopes full of cash and reuniting with family.

DCCS hosted a Lunar New Year Banquet on Saturday, Feb. 10 at the Engineering and Computer Science Center, which was open to campus. The planning of the event was a group effort that all class years contributed to, according to DCCS president Mellie Wang ’25.

Wang said that the event took around six weeks to plan and that the main concern was finding organizations around campus to fund it. She said that their primary source of funding was the Special Programs and Events Committee, a student committee that helps finance student groups’ programs and events. She added that DCCS received additional operational support from the Office of Pluralism and Leadership.

“It took us a lot of time to figure out what different organizations’ focuses are and match our demands with their offerings,” Wang said. “I would say that’s what takes the most planning.”

The event was catered by Han Fusion, and students participated in activities including sending wishes to family members using red envelopes, playing mahjong — a Chinese tile game — and participating in a game of Kahoot about Chinese culture.

Wang added that the high percentage of Dartmouth students who celebrate Lunar New Year made having a large space to celebrate in essential. She also noted that the event was “a very inclusive space for people to learn about Chinese culture.” 

According to DCCS member Evan Lai ’26, people across Asia usually travel home during Lunar New Year to spend time with their families. Lai added that events such as these are especially important, as they allow him to celebrate the holiday with people he cares about and who share a similar cultural heritage. 

“Lunar New Year is one of the most celebrated cultural holidays in the world, with two billion people celebrating it,” Lai said. “Additionally, there’s a very big Asian American and Asian population at the school, and this is the most important celebration for all of us.”

On Sunday, Feb. 11, the Dragon Dance, a common part of traditional Lunar New Year celebrations in which multiple dancers operate a large dragon puppet, was sponsored by the Hopkins Center. Hopkins Center programming manager Karen Henderson noted that the parade was organized in partnership with the Asian Cultural Center of Vermont and its director, Cai Xi.

“It’s the year of the dragon, so [the dragon parade is] even more apropos for this year’s celebration,” Henderson said. “The artist we are working with is Cai Xi. She did other events with the Hopkins Center for Lunar New Year. She has done a dumpling-making workshop … So, this year we’re doing the dragon dance and celebration.”

According to Henderson, The Hop held another Lunar New Year event at Hanover RWB Community Center before the parade. Activities included Chinese calligraphy and lessons in tai chi — a Chinese martial art — followed by the dragon parade at Collis Center at 12:30 p.m. 

The dragon puppet was brought to campus and met by the 12 students who volunteered to carry it. The dragon was taken through Collis, through and around Baker-Berry Library and onto the Green.

Henderson said because The Hop tries to showcase artists from all backgrounds, Lunar New Year provided an opportunity for them to highlight music and dance from other parts of the world.

“We think that it’s … very important for not only the campus but the community to be aware that [Lunar New Year] is a very huge holiday throughout the rest of the world,” Henderson said.