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The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

The Tongva Times

Gabrielino Eagles celebrate the Lunar New Year

By Jolin Hoang | Staff Writer

Courtesy of Mr. McClure

   Feb. 12 marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year celebration and the Year of the Ox. People from across the globe, mainly from Asian countries, celebrate this holiday by spending time with their family and friends. Gabrielino High School students and staff are no exception.

   Before the start of the celebration, a great deal of work goes into the preparation for this holiday. Putting up decorations such as door couplets and cleaning the house are traditions in response to the coming year. 

   “One thing we do is clean up household items and the house itself beforehand,” explained senior Ryan Quach. “Cleaning up during the celebrations themselves, however, is strictly forbidden because it is seen as cleaning up the good luck.”

   Cleaning before Lunar New Year can also be seen as “sweeping away the dust,” which represents a farewell to the old year and a welcome to the new year. 

  To start the celebration, a big feast is served to family and friends. The cultural dishes served on the dinner table varies depending on the families of different ethnicities. 

   Tiffany Chung, Gabrielino student support clerk, served fish, dumplings, sweet rice balls, noodles, oranges, and sweet candy for Lunar New Year. These dishes are considered special because each dish has its own meaning. For example, Chung explained how serving fish increases prosperity, dumplings bring wealth, sweet rice balls bring family togetherness, noodles bring life happiness and longevity, oranges are associated with good luck, and sweet candy symbolizes a sweet life ahead.  

   Another sweet treat, sticky rice cake, is also eaten during Lunar New Years. 

   “The word for sticky rice cakes, niángāo, sounds like the words for ‘year’ and ‘tall,’ signifying ‘success in the upcoming year,’” explained biology teacher Jessica Michie.

   Besides feasting, people also attend temples and watch dragon dance shows which are performed in the belief of scaring away evil spirits and the bad luck associated with them.

  “I would describe the dragon shows to be loud, exciting, and prideful. It is a time to celebrate our culture and it is amazing to see how our community comes together to celebrate it,” explained senior Joanna Ngo. 

    In previous years, Chung and her family watched dragon shows and also attended the Golden Dragon Parade that is held every year at Chinatown, Los Angeles. However, due to the pandemic, Chung and her family could not attend the Golden Dragon Parade in-person. Instead, they streamed the show from home. 

   “The Golden Dragon Parade features beautiful princesses on floats, traditional lion dance, firecrackers, marching bands, kung fu, Chinese acrobats, and yummy food trucks,” described Chung. “It’s such a great time and you really get to see how culturally diverse Los Angeles is.”

   Giving red envelopes to friends and family is another Lunar New Year tradition. The red envelopes symbolizes good luck and prosperity, and they are filled with generous amounts of money. 

   “We also handed out red envelopes, hóng bāo, and wished everyone a happy new year, gōng xǐ fā cái,” said Michie. 

     The Lunar New Year celebrations last for 15 consecutive days, full of celebratory activities, traditions, and time to spend with family and friends.

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Gabrielino Eagles celebrate the Lunar New Year