As 2022 came to a close, people across the world celebrated the New Year. However, for other cultures, the celebration is only just beginning in January.
For USC's Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA), the Lunar New Year festival is a season that is filled with family, food and tradition.
The CSSA is a student organization that promotes Chinese culture, as well as supports Chinese international students as they transition to life at USC. It hold events regularly, such as banquets, a mid-autumn festival and a Spring Festival Gala to celebrate the 2023 Lunar New Year.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by many eastern cultures with longstanding traditions in Vietnam, Korea and Thailand. However, the holiday is rooted in Chinese culture.
“In China, they take Lunar New Year very seriously," Vice President of CSSA Amber Tu said. "You get a week or two off work and no one works for those one or two weeks, everyone goes home."
Students in the CSSA who attended the Spring Festival Gala watched their peers perform, as well as enjoyed homemade dumplings, traditional Chinese snacks, raffles and festive games.
“To a lot of our members, it's important because it is their connection back to what they had before they came to the U.S.," Tu said. "Maybe like 90% of our members are international students who are here for their college career and so we want to provide them with a community and some events that reminds them of home."
During Chinese New Year, some families celebrate by handing out red pockets filled with money to the children that symbolize prosperity in the new year. There are also superstitions, such as not allowing showers on new years day, forbidding a haircut for the first seven days and not allowing for arguing and swearing over the duration of the holiday.
Through dancing, singing, cooking and spending time with family, the Lunar New Year festival starts the year off prosperous, lucky and full for those that celebrate.
"It's not a public holiday for us, so it's always difficult to sort of arrange a big meal," Jie Guo, an associate professor of comparative literature said. "It's important for people to get together to have a reunion or to get together with friends, or with loved ones."
For American-born Chinese students and international students alike, this is an opportunity to experience a different version of the Lunar New Year celebrations with friends.
“Growing up as an American, (the Lunar New Year) was this tradition in my family,” first-year psychology student and CSSA secretary department member Sunny Fang said. "It's just like a time where all of our family, extended family can come, we gather and celebrate maybe with a meal and just hang out. But it's definitely not as big as something that would happen in China. So I really wanted to like experience it more fully with this club on campus.”
Editors note: Amber Tu is an active member of Garnet Media Group's television station, SGTV.