Photo by Ellen Zhang
The beginning of a new year offers a fresh start for anybody who seeks it, and an opportunity to welcome a year of happiness, good fortune and, especially this year, good health. Feb.12 marked the Lunar New Year, the beginning of a new year based on the LuniSolar calendar. Senior Ellen Zhang and junior Austin Chen made sure not to let the holiday go unrecognized in the WCHS community despite the circumstances of the pandemic and virtual instruction.
“Every year, the Asian American Festival Committee hosts a Lunar New Year breakfast for Churchill staff members,” Zhang said. “While that wasn’t possible this year given the pandemic, we decided to do something similar by assembling goodie bags containing an assortment of store-bought snacks for teachers to safely pick up.”
The student-run committee sponsored by the PTSA was formed four years ago. Under the advisory of WCHS teacher, Mr. Bao Lee, the Asian American Festival Committee (AAFC) holds events throughout the year to celebrate all Asian culture and to educate WCHS students about Asian holidays and heritage.
“We usually hold two big events every school year. First being a Lunar New Year Breakfast for the staff at WCHS and second an Asian American Festival held at school for all to enjoy,” Chen said. “Since Lunar New Year was coming up, and the committee couldn’t hold a breakfast for the teachers, we planned a goodie bag event instead”.
The AAFC used many methods to ensure that the celebration was conducted safely and that the bags were available to any teacher that wanted to participate. It took some planning, but in the end they were successful. The AAFC also created an informative video for teachers to learn about the history and celebration of The Lunar New Year.
“The teachers themselves had the choice of whether or not to come to receive a bag,” Chen said. “We had the school notify all teachers that we were holding this event, and the school asked teachers to reply with either a yes or no response. We made an appropriate number of bags from there for teachers to pick up at the school.”
Food is an important factor to any culture because it has a way of bringing people together. The AAFC made sure to capture the essence of Chinese culture in their celebration at WCHS this year. Although the typical breakfast may be slightly more effective, the goodie bags are a wonderful, safe alternative.
“We put Sachima (a traditional Chinese egg pastry), pineapple cakes, rice crackers and Chinese candy in the bags for teachers and staff to enjoy,” Zhang said.
While traditional foods are important to all cultural celebrations, family is even more important. The Lunar New Year is about stepping into the new year with those close to you. Luckily, with the presence of the pandemic, students are spending more time with family than ever before. There are other traditions that are important in the celebration and those can be done with family members.
“Some traditions include cleaning the house, buying new clothing, cooking a wide variety of dishes, and decorating the house with red-colored ornaments. Many of these practices are centered around a common theme – bidding farewell to the old year and welcoming the new year,” Zhang said.
The AAFC has set a great example for all WCHS students on how to make the most of their situation. The pandemic has changed the way people spend their holidays, including the addition of finding safe ways to practice their culture. Some things are worth the extra effort spent, making it safe in order to participate in traditions. The Lunar New Year is definitely worth the effort, being a holiday of positivity and fresh starts, which is definitely something all WCHS students need right now.
“The Lunar New Year takes on a lot of different meanings depending on your heritage, family traditions, personal preference, and more,” Zhang said. “For me, the Lunar New Year is a time to get together with family, albeit virtually this year, and welcome a year of happiness, health, and good fortune together.”