How Does PDS Celebrate The Lunar New Year?


(Artwork/Kayla Zhang ’24)

Max Glasgold, Online Staff Writer

The Lunar New Year is a 15-day celebration from the first new moon of the year to the first full moon. Originally, it was connected to Buddhism and Taoism, but has now grown to be mainly secular. The first celebrations can be traced back to the 14th century, when peasants would celebrate having the ability to pay their landlords, as their rent was due on the first day of the new year. They celebrated by lighting the earliest firecrackers, which were made by throwing pieces of bamboo into fires, where the heat would cause them to explode. Although celebrations started like this, traditions have developed and expanded over the many centuries since. So, how have traditions developed within the strong community of Asian Americans who celebrate at PDS? 

Lighting fireworks to make noise is an example of a tradition that has stayed alive throughout the years. Senior and Chinese club co-head, Jason Ma, stated: “On the first day of the New Year, we sometimes set fireworks in our backyard. The cultural background of this comes from using the loud noises to scare away bad luck and evil spirits.”. Additionally, food plays a large role in the Lunar New Year. Ma shared, “My family loves to have a big meal together, with staples almost always at the table including a whole fish, rice cakes, dumplings, and some vegetables.” Food in the Lunar New Year traditionally has symbolic meaning behind it. Often, foods represent luck, wealth, and health. Gold colors in foods like melons and kumquats represent fortune in the new year. Noodles are only eaten long, as superstition warns that short noodles represent a short life. Dumplings are another example of a food with superstitious connotations. To those who do not celebrate Lunar New Year, dumplings are a nice part of dinner when their family ventures out to a restaurant, or when they get it delivered. However, to those who celebrate, dumplings hold great significance. For some, their dumplings are molded in the shape of ingots to represent wealth . To sophomore Amanda Chen’s family, they represent luck: “Every year, we make dumplings, and my mom puts coins in some of them. It’s really lucky if you eat a dumpling with a coin in it.” This tradition is related to some of the superstitions about fortune. For English teacher Ms. Lee, dumplings are one of her favorite foods to eat during Lunar New Year, not because of their flavor, which she already loves, but because of the memories they carry. Ms. Lee says, “We used to go into the city to see my grandparents in Chinatown. There would always be a feast. My favorite was a pork dumpling my dad used to make, and they’re a good way to remember him now that he’s dead.” 

Throughout the Lunar New Year, family remains a core value. In the same way, if you ask anyone about any holiday they celebrate, they are sure to say that family is one of the things they treasure the most. Just like any other holiday students at the Day School participate in, Lunar New Year is unique and important in its own way.