Lunar New Year

“Happy New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choi! Xin Nian Hao! Sae-Hae Bok-Maa-ni Ba-Du-Sae-Yo!”

Everyone greeted each other in different Asian languages at the Lunar New Year’s Celebration last Tuesday (February 22nd). It was the first time that the Asia Business Club (ABC) and the Asian American Business Association (AABA) joined together to share many of the diverse Asian cultures represented here at HBS to the rest of the HBS community. It proved to be a huge success as over 100 students came together, relishing various Asian cuisines and enjoying traditional performances from fellow classmates.

Lunar New Year is the first day of the lunar year and is usually the biggest holiday for Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, and overseas Chinese all over the world. It started as an occasion to celebrate the past year’s harvest and to prepare for the coming year of hard work beginning in spring. Thus, it is also called “Spring Festival” in China. Similar to Christmas and New Year’s in the West, the Lunar New Year holiday season spans a month, starting in lunar December and ending on lunar January 15, the Lantern Festival. Families and friends get together for feasts, to offer ritual homage to ancestors, to exchange gifts, to give out “lucky money” or “red envelopes” to youngsters, and to enjoy fireworks. Although the meaning and celebrations associated with the Lunar New Year can vary across regions, the underlying message is one of peace, happiness, and good luck for family members and friends.

The festivities held at HBS were a reflection of our diverse Asian community. OWA Common Room was decorated with red ornaments (red is the lucky color). The celebration opened with Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese food, followed by a traditional Lion Dance, a Chinese Fan Dance, Samulnori (Korean percussion music), and an Asian Costume Show. A squad from MIT staged the Lion Dance, which originated from southern China. The heads of these fearsome beasts are supposed to ward off evil and provide safety for family members. It was followed by the classical Chinese fan dance, presented by a team of seven HBS girls. Their elegant moves, coupled with the swift flitting of fans, won nonstop applause from the audience. The third act, Samulnori, is representative of Korean traditional music and the spirit of the Korean peasants to whom the music belongs.

Next in line was the Asian Costume Show. In many parts of Asia, people wear traditional costumes during important occasions such as Lunar New Year. Student “models” not only presented the conventional Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese dresses, but also blended in modern elements of “haute couture” with a “hip-hop” twist, which brought the crowd to its feet. To cap off the evening, lucky recipients whose names were drawn from a hat received red envelopes with gift certificates provided by the event sponsor CITS travel in Harvard Square.

Part of the proceeds from the event will go to tsunami relief efforts via Mercy Corps as part of the clubs’ efforts to help victims of the Asian tsunami.