Fordham Celebrates Year of the Rat for Lunar New Year



Informational display about the Lunar New Year set up in the Lowenstein lobby.


The kickoff for the 2020 Lunar New Year fell on Jan. 25, heralding the start of the Year of the Rat. At Fordham at Lincoln Center (FLC), the Asian American Pacific Islander committee (AAPI) collaborated with the Asian-Pacific American Club (APAC) to ring in Lunar New Year with a week full of activities inspired by Asian festivities during the holidays. 

“The Lunar New Year is a very widely celebrated holiday amongst Asian households and is a time for family and bonding,” said Stefanie Uy, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) 22, one of APAC’s leaders. We, as a club, wanted to organize a Lunar New Year event to educate and engage others in Lunar New Year history, festivities, and food.”

Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in Asian countries and is widely celebrated in other parts of the world. The date of Lunar New Year changes every year as the Chinese follow the Lunar calendar, but it always falls in either January or February. 

“Chinese New Year isn’t so much a cultural tradition as it is a familial one,” said Harry Sun, FCLC 23. “We don’t celebrate the passing of the old year or the coming of a new year, but rather, we come together to understand each other as a family and appreciate the love we have for each other on this special day.”

One of the twelve different zodiac animals is featured every year, with people born in that year said to exhibit personality traits of the animals whose year they were born in. For example, the Rat is known for having an outgoing and sociable personality.

During the week leading up to Lunar New Year, members of AAPI and APAC came together to celebrate by hosting various events including zodiac trivia, calligraphy and paper lanterns crafts. Students who participated in the trivia games had the chance to win red envelopes and fortune cookies. During the calligraphy event, the clubs printed a myriad of celebratory New Year phrases from Vietnam, South Korea and China for students to write on red and yellow papers.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that Lunar New Year is not only celebrated in China,” said Kathleen Kye, FCLC ’22 and the cultural programming coordinator of the AAPI committee.
“The holiday is also celebrated in other countries, such as South Korea and Vietnam. Furthermore, our events offer a cultural experience within Fordham. By having tabling events, we allow students and faculty to have a taste of diversity that exists in Fordham and to help them be curious about something unfamiliar,” she said. 

APAC also hosted their own Lunar New Year event on Friday, Jan. 31, complete with a red and gold photo booth, and bingo with snacks and skincare prizes. For dinner, they had an assortment of Chinese food including dumplings, wontons, pork buns, lo mein, sesame chicken, beef, shrimp, fish and mochi. 

“I think it’s important to celebrate Chinese New Year at Fordham because it gives people a little taste of home,” Uy said. “At college, you’re separated from your family, and since Fordham doesn’t give holiday off for Lunar New Year, chances are, you are away from family. Celebrating Lunar New Year bonds people together and gives them a sense of a home away from home.”