The Kingsmen Room in the Student Union was decorated with red tablecloths, red lanterns hanging from the ceiling with the aroma of dumplings, noodles and egg rolls filling the air at the Lunar New Year celebration hosted by the Center for Cultural Engagement and Inclusion at Cal Lutheran and the Center for Global Engagement.
“Lunar New Year is similar to Thanksgiving in Western culture, where everyone gets together to celebrate and eat good food,” David Mizukoshi, sophomore international student from Taiwan, China said.
The event was organized by Lu Bai, an undergraduate international student from Hunan Province, China.
Bai is the president of Cal Lutheran’s Chinese Culture Club, a club that aims to spread Chinese history and culture on campus.
At the event, students of various backgrounds came together to enjoy food catered by local Chinese restaurant Imperial Garden, meet new people and play traditional Chinese games like Mahjong, Go and Chinese Chess.
Bai, who has been playing Go for over 10 years was a difficult opponent for new challengers.
Mizukoshi said that traveling is a very important part of the Lunar New Year, as people are on the move to get home and spend time with loved ones.
Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, has been celebrated for thousands of years.
Key characteristics of Lunar New Year differ depending on where someone is from, however, by Bai and Mizukoshi include dumplings, mooncakes – traditional Chinese pastries, and red envelopes.
Bai said red envelopes are an essential part of celebrating Lunar New Year, no matter what part of China you are from.
“It is the one thing you must have on that day,” Bai said.
Red envelopes, considered a symbol of good luck, often include money, and are given during social and family gatherings.
“This semester, Lunar New Year was literally a few days after school started, so for people who were back home and had to go to college, they kind of wanted the extra two weeks off, so it’s nice to be able to celebrate here and spread the culture,” Mizukoshi said.
On-campus celebrations of international cultural events not only provide students the opportunity to enjoy food and games, Bai said.
Mizukoshi said this celebration is one of many ways Cal Lutheran helps educate students to become members of a global society.
“We have a group of 80 students from China, mostly undergraduates. I think they miss home,” Bai said. “We just want them to feel like it is Lunar New Year even when they aren’t home.”