Year Of The Tiger: How the Lunar New Year Was Celebrated At UNR
Nancy Vazquez reports on Lunar New Year festivities held at the Joe Crowley student union at the University of Nevada, Reno and explains some of the traditions involved.
The traditional color red greeted attendees. Table cloths, Chinese paper lanterns, red envelopes, and fortune cards were everywhere to be seen. Lambda Psi Rho’s red fraternity jackets also fit into the decorations. The fraternity along with ijji Noodle House, UNR’s multicultural center, and Leung’s White Crane Lion Dancers from San Francisco collaborated to make the event special and varied.
The first activity of the afternoon was free Pho provided by ijji Noodle House. Participants received a small hot bowl of Pho noodles and green onions. After following the restaurant’s social media, they could enter into a raffle for gift cards and t-shirts.
After that a Lambda Psi Rho member announced a scavenger hunt in the student union ballrooms. Hints were scattered in ways that incorporated the Lunar New Year theme, including a particularly hard-to-reach hint that was hiding in red lanterns high up. Prizes were awarded to the first people to finish the activity. Rewards included multiple squishmallows and a portable battery charger.
Following that, two guest speakers educated attendees. One of them shared the significance of the holiday to them, especially since their family did not celebrate any western holidays. The other guest speaker gave a brief history and told of the significance of the Lunar New Year.
“I didn’t know anything about Lunar New Year besides that it was the year of the Tiger,” said Edgar Fernandez, who was one of those who felt enlightened.
Many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year to scare off Nian, a beast believed to eat human flesh. The beast is afraid of the color red and loud noises which is why those things are incorporated into the celebration. Something else mentioned by the speaker was that red envelopes are exchanged by family members with money inside. Some of the foods eaten during the celebration are sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity. Typically the holiday lasts from the last week of January to the last week of February.
Attendees feed the red dragon red envelopes filled with money. Video Taken by Nancy Vazquez.
To close the event, the long-awaited lion dancers appeared. For them, the UNR event was a pit stop before heading to the El Dorado Casino for another performance. A red and yellow dragon pranced through the doors followed by three drummers. The dragons first made their way among the attendees to gobble up any red envelopes they were offered. “I was impressed by the coordinated movements of both the dancers under the dragon costume,” Fernandez said.
The dancers ended the celebration by popping out banners that said Happy Lunar New Year. Lambda Psi Rho thanked everyone who came and as they exited participants could take a picture with the dragon dancers.