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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

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Lunar New Year celebration lights up SBCC with vibrant cultural traditions

Claire Geriak
As a puzzle, the Chinese and Asian Student Unions had visitors of the Lunar New Year celebration try to copy Chinese characters on Feb. 15 in Santa Barbara, Calif. With support from the ASU and CSU, the prize for the puzzle was a red envelope with stickers, candy, and other items inside.

Red streamers, red envelopes containing gifts and paper dragon decorations add onto the already colorful AAPI mural at City College. With the arrival of the Lunar New Year, the Chinese Student Union and Asian Student Union organized a new year celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 15.

Students lined up tables with bright red table cloths and homemade spring rolls, inviting City College to participate and choose from the array of red envelopes and pick a special gift.

Bruce Xu, a City College alumni, offered his time to volunteer after working with the international students at City College.

Visitors of the Lunar New Year celebration by the Asian Student Union and Chinese Student Union pick out their red envelope after solving a puzzle on Feb. 15 in Santa Barbara, Calif. The red envelopes typically have money in them and are given to family and friends for fortune in the new year, but these ones came with stickers, candy and decoration hand picked by the ASU and CSU. (Claire Geriak)

“Color red in Asia means luck,” Xu said. “Lucky being red goes with the Lunar New Year, and even with your marriage.”

Film production major, Bird Le, volunteered to take pictures for the celebration for the groups who went into the organization of the event. 

“It’s pretty good in general,” Le said. “I was born in 2000, which means I was born in the dragon year, and this is the dragon year so it kinda means something special to me. It’s to get people together and bond. We’re just chilling, we happen to be stronger together and celebrate.”

He shared how his family celebrated the Lunar New Year and explained his own view of the celebration. Culturally, Lunar New Year is based on the lunar calendar, and is used to signify the different seasons of agriculture, highlighting its importance.

From left, Yawei Zhang and Hongyi Wu help distribute the red envelopes during the Lunar New Year Celebration on Feb. 15 in Santa Barbara, Calif. Both of them wear lanyards with “unity is strength” written in gold text. (Claire Geriak)

The origin of this celebration, according to Xu, is known by families from an old Chinese myth. A mythical monster Nian, whose name means “year,” would appear at the beginning of every new year and start taking children away from their families. To chase the beast away, people would use the loud noises from fireworks and the color red from their decorations to save their children. 

“It was kinda like a magic to beat that monster away from their kids,” Xu said, sharing why the celebration was important for his memory. 

“For me it makes me remember with the music and the guessing and getting the gift. And then as a kid, that meaning was for good luck and you would get money from your parents or your grandparents to wish you luck.”

With students in charge of the celebration, Xu shared how they hoped to reach out to the Asian community at City College. 

“Lunar New Year is a really really important holiday for our APPI student group,” he said. “We use this to share the luck, give support for each other, and wish all the best for the year. That is really like a culture presentation for the Asian Pacific students.”

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