Students celebrate Lunar New Year away from home during COVID-19

By Jess Hume-Pantuso
Junior, Tuyen Nguyen, shares her experience in celebrating Lunar New Year in the time of Covid-19. Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are cycles of the moon and sun. 

Tam Tong, News Contributor

International students at Oregon State University are gearing up to celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome in the Year of the Ox as the holiday began on Feb. 12.


The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, brings friends and family together in several Asian countries, with celebrations that carry on traditions.


It is known as a holiday tied to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar which is celebrated in China, Korea, Vietnam, and other countries all over the world. This year, the celebration officially started on Feb. 12, and lasts up to 16 days.


“During this time, me and my family prepare for the holiday by going shopping to buy decorations, food and new clothes,” said Tuyen Nguyen, a junior student of business information system, who shared about the New Year holiday in her home country, Vietnam. 


On the first day, Nguyen said, “my family and I have a family gathering in my grandparents’ house… My family members give the best wishes to each other and receive lucky money in red envelopes. We enjoy the delicious dishes from my grandmother, and we share stories about last year.”


Tianle Yuan, a graduate student studying computer science at OSU, said this holiday is a family gathering with a reunion dinner full of traditional food. However, the Lunar New Year often occurs during the academic year, particularly overlapping with midterm season, exams and quizzes. 


Thus, for most international students, it is often celebrated with their friends rather than families.


“During this time, because we know as American college students you will be really busy so no matter whether it is an online or offline course, you will always be busy,” Yuan said.


Nevertheless, both Yuan and Nguyen have planned to celebrate this special holiday as a warm dinner with their close friends while still following all COVID-19 safety guidelines..


During this pandemic, we don’t celebrate like normal,” Nguyen said. “We are aware of the pandemic and follow the safety rules such as wearing masks and using hand sanitizer regularly and staying six feet away from others in the store. And for the New Year’s day, we just limit a small group of five people and spend time to celebrate Lunar New Year as a dinner.The atmosphere is still there, cozy and joyful.”


On the other hand, Liuqiao Song, a student of electrical engineering and computer science, chooses to stay home and celebrate Lunar New Year with family through video calls to protect herself and others during COVID-19. 


“We just have phone calls with our family members, our friends, and then take some photos together,” Song said.


In terms of the Chinese zodiac animal, this coming year is the year of the Ox. The Chinese zodiac describes the Ox as strong, reliable, and diligent. Song said those attributes make her hopeful for the coming year. 

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