‘Ear-resistible’ Year of the Rabbit celebrations promote diversity


Arianna Zhu

It is a longstanding tradition for many AAPI families to make dumplings from scratch as a way to celebrate Lunar New Year.

With the Year of the Rabbit only a hop, skip, and a jump away, families and council members are preparing to celebrate, whether that means making dumplings with loved ones or planning city-wide events for entire communities.

Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, is a seven-day-long holiday beginning on Jan. 22 and is the most important holiday in Chinese culture. The Bay Area’s large AAPI population has encouraged the creation of numerous community celebrations that promote and share Chinese culture with residents.

“I don’t think it’s just AAPI people who are coming out to our events. The entire community really likes to celebrate together — this is one of the events where you can really see how people want to be together to celebrate and learn about each other’s cultures,” said Julia Mates, the mayor of Belmont. Mates is helping plan a Lunar New Year celebration at Belmont City Hall.

As the AAPI population in California continues to grow and the United States becomes more diverse, many feel that it is more important than ever to honor and celebrate cultural holidays. After all, promoting cultural diversity fosters open-mindedness for other cultures and allows people to see the world from a different perspective.

The entire community really likes to celebrate together — this is one of the events where you can really see how people want to be together to celebrate and learn about each other’s cultures.”

— Julia Mates

The importance of celebrating diversity motivates large groups like the Belmont City Council as well as smaller groups like Carlmont’s Chinese Culture Club.

“We are planning a Lunar New Year celebration with different cultural activities each day. We will have paper cutting, dough figurines, book-binding, Chinese New Year trivia, and different food items every day. Our goal is to share these unique aspects of our culture during this special time of year!” said Katherine Yu, the president of the Chinese Culture Club at Carlmont.

Lunar New Year has a host of traditions, including spring cleaning, family reunions, red envelope gifting, and making dumplings from scratch, according to Columbia University.

Community celebrations aim to incorporate different traditions to share with the community. An event scheduled for Feb. 4 at the Redwood Shores Public Library will do just that, according to Jan Pedden, one of the planners of the celebration.

“The event will offer crafts provided by the library, the Hanlin Chinese School, the Odyssey Preschool, and a calligraphy demonstration. There will be a lion dance, as well as Guzheng and Baduanjin performances,” Pedden said.

The Lunar New Year celebration at Belmont City Hall will also include various demonstrations and activities. After the great turnout at the previous Belmont Lunar New Year celebration, the planning committee is working hard to recreate that festive atmosphere, according to Mates.

“Right outside City Hall, we’re going to do some poetry, a Tai chi demonstration—all our demonstrations and activities. Then the lion dancers will wrap up, which is everybody’s favorite,” Mates said.

As the Year of the Tiger roars to a halt and the Year of the Rabbit begins, the history and culture behind this holiday come to light. While the Year of the Tiger symbolizes a year of action, the rabbit is believed to foreshadow a year of peace and self-reflection, according to NBC News.

Overall, Lunar New Year is focused on forgetting the bad and the old to move on to the new and good. It promises a new year and a new beginning.