Hotchkiss Celebrates Lunar New Year with Hundreds of Red Lanterns, and Thousands of Dumplings

The Hotchkiss community celebrated the Lunar New Year on Jan. 25 with an evening of food, activities, and games. From its origins as an afternoon dumpling-making session, the event has grown to become a popular annual tradition, thanks to the participation of students, parents, faculty, and staff.
To kick off the holiday, Virginia Osborne P’21 spearheaded the effort to string several hundred red lanterns in front of Main Building. In Asian cultures, red symbolizes good luck, joy, prosperity, celebration, happiness, and a long life. On Saturday evening, students wore red clothing, waved sparklers, and pinned red sheets of paper to their backs with Chinese characters written on them for good luck. Jessica Kim ’21 from South Korea wore a Hanbok, a traditional Korean formal dress, and her classmate Nicole Morikawa, who is of Japanese descent, donned a bright red sheath.

In the Student Center, stations were set up for traditional paper cutting or jianzhi, calligraphy, and jianzi, a circle game played with a weighted shuttlecock. A microphone was on hand for those brave enough to try Karaoke in Asian languages. The activities were organized by the Chinese Club, Korea Club, and Asian Culture Club, in collaboration with parents, the Dining Hall staff, faculty, and staff.

“This has been a great way for students to learn about other cultures,” said Jennifer Li ’20, who grew up in El Salvador and whose parents are Chinese. 

Nora Yasumura, prep dean and director of student clubs and affinity groups, said that by bringing together different Asian cultures and generations along with students, staff, and faculty, the event has become a holiday for the entire community. 

The biggest draw of the evening was the food –– and there was no shortage of it. 
More than 30 parents visited campus to attend and many made traditional Asian dishes or donated money for food and decorations. Trays and trays of food filled Main hallway, representing a wide range Asian cuisine, including Thai tea and cookies, Chinese dumplings, noodles, and sesame rice balls, Korean pancakes and snacks, and bak kwa from Singapore.
Jean Chang P’18,’21 was instrumental in starting the community’s first Lunar New Year celebration three years ago. The holiday is like Thanksgiving — a time for family gatherings and sharing traditional dishes. But since students are not able to leave the School to be with friends and family a small group of parents gathered to make dumplings in Harris House that year, she explained.

“It was sort of under the radar, but since then it has just exploded,” she said. 

"Food is such a great way to start learning about a culture; it's a natural ice breaker. 
Besides, who doesn't love dumplings?” 

 On Jan. 28, the Lunar New Year celebration will continue during All-School Meeting with students performances representing different Asian cultures.
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