Chinese New Year celebrations foster a sense of home for International Students

in Features by

A time of joy and tears filled with reunions with family members, Chinese New Year is one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture. Chinese New Year marks the start of the year in the Lunar calendar with each represented by an animal. This year, Feb. 10, 2024 marked the beginning of the “Year of Dragons.” Chinese international students all unite with their families or friends to celebrate this holiday. “Chinese New Year is very important to me and my family. It is a time to celebrate the New Year and wish for good luck and happiness,” senior Chris Zhang said. 

During Chinese New Year, people follow traditional customs to welcome a fresh start. The usual customs include cleaning the house and decorating it with red lanterns and couplets, giving out red envelopes to children and elders as a sign of respect, watching lions dance and most importantly,  reuniting with family for dinner to share greetings and gifts on New Year’s Eve. “Our family celebrates Chinese New Year by dressing up in red attire, lighting firecrackers and making dumplings together,” sophomore Justin Li said. 

This year, Heritage’s homestay program celebrated the Lunar New Year. “The school homestay offered us traditional Chinese food such as dumplings. It helped me feel a sense of the festive occasions of China,” sophomore Terry Liang said. 

Chinese International students are still able to connect with their families to celebrate this holiday and feel a sense of home. “I celebrated Chinese New Year by spending time with friends and family over the weekend. My friends and I made dumplings and hotpot together while watching the traditional Chinese TV Program (Chun Wuan) for Chinese New Year. Although my family members are not in the United States, I was able to talk to them online and celebrate the traditions with them,” freshman Annie Deng said. 

Chinese New Year fosters a sense of home and connection between Chinese students living abroad. No matter where Chinese students are, the customs and traditions of this Lunar New Year will always stay with them.

International students Terry Liang, Mark Ma and Thomas Zhang celebrate Chinese New Year with their relatives and friends by making hotpot and dumplings. (Photo/Terry Liang)

Cara, a rising sophomore at American Heritage, is excited to be joining the Patriot Post this year. As a listener, communicator, and constant observer, she often expresses herself through writing. Cara is in Speech and Debate, Model UN, Key Club, and SGA. During her free time, Cara enjoys socializing and loves hanging out with friends at the beach or shopping at the mall.