Joslyn Hunscher-Young, Staff

March 10, 2023

How has your celebration of Lunar New Year changed since quarantine?

For me, a lot has changed. My dad, who was Chinese American, passed away in April 2020. So that meant some shifts and changes, since he had done a lot of the New Year’s celebrations. But we still celebrate. We still have a big meal with way too much food and spend time with family. Those things are the same but different with the loss of my dad and different things are starting to come back this year. The one thing on Chinese New Year was, in order for us to get our red envelopes, we had to say gong hei fat choi (happy new year in Cantonese), and so we still have to do that, and my husband still has to do that during the celebrations, and my kids still have to do that.

Why do you think it’s important to hold on to these traditions?

Traditions are what make up a lot of our culture and our connections and help us to connect with other people. And that is important. Obviously, as a history teacher, I think [traditions are] part of understanding your own history and understanding where you come from. Being able to pass on some of those things and create new things, I see as an important part of parenting. Also a part of life is helping other people around you to understand who they are, who you are, where you all come from and how that informs who you are today. There is a large Asian community in the area, but it’s not necessarily something that [my family is] consistently a part of. So seeing and recognizing [that] other people celebrate this holiday can be important too. For me, having lost my dad who was trying to use that kind of familial connection, it isn’t there and so for me, and hopefully for my kids, [continuing these traditions is] providing a way to connect with community and maybe connect them with heritage that might be somewhat lost.

What hopes do you have for the new year?

I’m hopeful that things turn out okay, and that people take the time to cherish those around them and to really connect in, and figure out, and value, and spend time with the people that are important to them. I hope, especially within the Asian American community, that people are able to hold each other close and figure out ways to continue to make our society a better place than it is.

What new traditions are you creating?

This year, I decided to share a sort of tradition with my forum. On whatever the Tuesday after New Year’s, the 25th or something of January, I brought in a bunch of dumpling filling and dumpling wrappers. We had a dumpling-making party in forum and just made a bunch of dumplings that they could then take home and cook. It was mildly entertaining to watch people that had never made a dumpling before attempt to do it for their first time, but they all grew a lot and made really solid-looking dumplings by the end. But I think that that’s something that I want to try and continue as well, because I think it’s an important way to share the culture and some model for students how they can bring it in share something about themselves too, and build those connections in forum. Plus, dumplings are delicious.

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