On Feb. 12, a group of students gathered in the CKB lounge to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year. The mouthwatering smell of signature dishes such as veggie and pork dumplings, hot pot and braised beef wafted through the air and into the hallway, signaling the start of the celebration. On the table lay an impressive spread of traditional Chinese dishes: soup dumplings, egg tarts, egg noodles and many more.
The holiday has been celebrated for about 3,500 years to honor the deities and Chinese ancestors as well as the start of a new moon, symbolizing fresh beginnings. Notable celebratory ceremonies include dragon dances and lantern shows.
Among the group of students feasting was Ian Huang ’24 who moved to campus this semester from Taiwan. According to Huang, this was his first time spending the Lunar New Year away from home.
“I didn’t think that I was going to celebrate Chinese New Year the same way that I previously had, but I’m so grateful that I have found a community that shares a common tradition with me,” Huang said.
The initial idea to celebrate the Lunar New Year on campus came after Huang and a few other friends discussed their New Year traditions and memories with one another. To fill the void of homesickness that touched on nostalgia, Huang and his friends decided to put their own twists on their traditional celebration.
Huang said that he and his friends ordered Chinese takeout from Tian Jin and Hai Hong, local Asian restaurants that offer a variety of cuisines, and ordered dishes such as egg tarts and soup dumplings. They also stopped by Ren’s, an Asian market, to pick-up ingredients such as egg noodles and spices for the hot pot. Hot pot, also known as soup-food, is a traditional Chinese dish that consists of a spicy soup with many additional ingredients such as meat and assorted vegetables to add flavor. Arms heavy with bags of take-out boxes and groceries, back in the dorm, Huang and his friends got to cooking. Together, they ended the night with not only full stomachs, but with filled hearts from their ability to share in this communal celebration with one another.
Huang reflects back on the night as one that he’ll cherish fondly. “It was great to see that everyone had a special connection to at least one of the dishes we grew up eating every Lunar New Year,” Huang said. “What blessed me the most that night was not the food, but rather being able to enjoy an amazing experience with everyone, which brought us closer together.”
Grace Kim is a freshman in the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.