In terms of followers, the Lunar New Year celebration is one of the most significant traditions in the world. Millions of people in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and other parts of South East Asia participate in the festivities or one of their local permutations. With this in mind, three Saint Mary’s DeSousa-Brent Scholars, first-years Ashley Simmons, Hanmei Knoll, and Ashley Dam, hosted a Lunar New Year celebration in Daugherty-Palmer Commons (DPC) on Friday, Feb 7.
The event in DPC had two primary purposes. First, it was meant to be a fun and enjoyable festival for Saint Mary’s students and faculty. Second, the hosts hoped to use the event to expand awareness about lunar celebrations as well as certain aspects of Asian culture. A major focus in this regard was separating the traditions of the Chinese New Year from those of other cultures. Many countries, including China, celebrate the Lunar New Year, each with their own twists and traditions. Ashley Dam compared the nature of the celebration to that of Christmas in the West – although many nations celebrate Christmas, they each have their own traditions and styles. As Dam put it, “Portraying the Lunar New Year exclusively as a Chinese holiday is about as inaccurate as portraying Christmas as an exclusively American holiday.”
The highlight of the event was the food. As the festivities got started, students were invited to fill dumplings with ingredients that had been set out in large bowls. Once enough dumplings had been made, they were cooked and served in a buffet line. When approached for comment, sophomore Hannah Dickmyer provided the following review: “You may quote me as saying that the dumplings are excellent.” Fried rice and cooked vegetables were also featured in the buffet line-up.
Perhaps the most interesting foods were the pre-packaged treats and candies that were scattered across the various tables. Of particular note was a strangely sweet red-bean treat that looked like a pitted date and was coated in fine, powdered sugar. This reporter also had the chance to sample sesame seed brittle, ginger candies, and oat crackers, all of which were quite tasty, if slightly unusual.
The most bizarre thing, by far, was a plastic tube filled with jelly candy. This particular jelly was as slippery as Vaseline and had the viscosity of engine grease. It claimed to be grape-flavored. All oddities aside, the dumplings were the star of the show. Junior Dylan Hadfield regrettably informed the press that “I ate the dumplings too fast to really taste them.” In a review that is highly open to interpretation, senior Chris Hammond described the dumplings as “ticklish.”
All in all, the celebration appeared to meet the goals of hosts and attendees alike.