Lunar New Year Lantern Festival rings in new beginnings

Ysabella Gonzalez, Reporter

The Lunar New Year Lantern Festival marked the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations that began in January. This festival was organized by the Center of Global Engagement on Monday, Feb. 6 in Kingsmen Park. 

“We started with the Little Year, which is where you do your winter cleaning to get rid of the old and welcome the new. And now we’re closing with the Lantern Festival,” Assistant Director for the Center of Global Engagement Lara Raynaud said. 

As part of the event, food was brought from the Imperial Garden. Students and faculty were welcome to participate in activities such as cookie decorating by Sodexo, learning to write your name in Mandarin from volunteer Chinese students teaching about calligraphy, learning how to make paper lanterns, playing Mahjong and solving riddles. 

“We had a lot of help from our student workers at the Center for Global Engagement. It’s a community-wide event—it’s open to anybody who walks by and wants to participate,” Raynaud said.

The lanterns were the center of attention, as they were the namesake of the event. Traditionally, participants would have a lantern that they would send into the sky, but due to the fire regulations in California, the Center for Global Engagement has decided to take a more symbolic approach. 

“Today we are going to symbolically build lanterns and put your wishes for the new year in the lantern and then put them up on the gazebo,” Raynaud said. 

The festival brought a mix of students and faculty, which was very exciting for JoSan Petersen, administrative assistant to the deans, who attended the event

“It’s very exciting to see the students here and engage with the staff and faculty. I mean, we even have faculty here which is exciting too because we don’t have enough events that include everybody, that are so inclusive,” Petersen said. 

Coming to the event meant a lot for some of the students, including international students like first-year Nina Dube, who is interested in different cultures and meeting new people.

“When I learned about this event I was excited and it’s more exciting because there are different people from different backgrounds and different races that came to celebrate, which makes it really great,” Dube said. 

This sense of inclusion in the crowd also came on as a form of support by faculty for the community. 

“I am here supporting the cultural engagement and inclusion center as an Asian Pacific Islander member. We’re so excited because I don’t think we’ve had an event like this on campus for quite a while,” Petersen said.

The festival has also encouraged students to learn about each other’s culture, not just enjoy the food. 

“I’m excited to have my friends here and celebrate the new year with them. I also made a few Chinese friends so I’m supporting them and they are teaching me about their culture,” Dube said.

The meaning of the Lunar Lantern Festival goes beyond good food and socialization, it’s about beginning anew. A message that extends beyond just the Asian community, but for everyone to share together.

“This event means a new beginning. New beginnings for your life, starting new beginnings in your relationships, in your home, in your head, in your body, and in your mind,” Petersen said.

The bulletin board sharing the Lunar New Year events will be displayed in the library until the end of February.