University Celebrates The Year of the Pig

Cal State LA kicked off the Lunar New Year at the U-SU on Jan. 31 to celebrate the tradition of many different cultures around the world.

Immortals performing Lion Dance front and center for the audience of the Lunar New Year event. Photo by Joshua Mejia

Marissa Chavez, Digital Editor

The Cross Cultural Centers (CCC) host an event on campus last Thursday to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The day included special performances, crafts, guest speakers and a variety of cultural food.

Each year, many of the individuals who celebrate this tradition do not go to work or do any cleaning on the first day of the new year. According to student event coordinator Andrea Wasawas, it is believed that what one does on that day will be what one does for the entire year.

“The Lunar New Year is the longest and most important festival for many cultures,” said Wasawas. “Each day is very special and different.”

The event was organized by CCC staff, the Vietnamese Student Association, the Korean Student Association and student scholars, alongside the support from seven different organizations around Los Angeles who provided refreshments including: banh mi, thai tea and kimbap.

Graduate student Katherine Belknap has attended this event for five consecutive years and explained how each year is more exciting and different than the last.

“This is always a fun event,” Belknap said. “My favorite part is making fun crafts and watching the Lion Dance, and hopefully getting some good luck.”

The color red is a symbol for good luck according to Belknap; so students wrote their wishes on a red piece of paper and hung it on the Wishing Tree.

A crowd favorite was the traditional Lion Dance performed by the Immortals–the renowned dance team based in LA. The lions danced around the students to the sound of beating drums and clashing cymbals to give the crowd the full cultural experience.
Immortal member Frances Chan, who danced as the lion, expressed her support for the culture and her appreciation of the Lunar New Year traditions.

“Most of us have been practicing the performance for over seven years,” Chan said. “It’s a fun and creative way to embrace culture and appreciate who you are.”

Thursday’s event had a large turnout, despite the weather forcing the celebration to move indoors. The event began its planning in Fall and worked creatively so that students were able to enjoy interactive performances, meet new people and learn about Chinese customs.

The keynote speaker and former CCC staff Stephanie Han told the traditional story of the Lunar New Year and explained its significance to the cultures who celebrate. This year’s zodiac, the pig, is the last of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle and are said to have a beautiful personality with the ability to stand out in a crowd. Han encourages individuals to “ground our inner selves” and “embrace our uniqueness” because the Lunar New Year is a story of resistance.