What Lunar New Year means to us

2021 wasn't a typical Lunar New Year for Dal students from around the world. Here some of them share their usual traditions, what they miss during the pandemic, and how they were planning to spend the holiday this year.

Photo: Pxhere.com

Tianqi Liu

The most affectionate memory of my Lunar New Year is about a round dining table. When I was still little, my entire family would reunite every Lunar New Year to have dinner on a round dining table. While the adults were discussing something beyond our comprehension, we kids would be sitting around or even crowded under the table to play hide and seek. And my grandparents always cook a lot of tasty food during that day.

We all have a table like this in our homes in China. It is a symbol of a reunion of our families, representing our sentiment and an attachment to our families. In China, almost everything can be solved over a round table, so I start to wonder what is this round table to us? The food on the table may change over time, the people sit beside it may come and go, the reason why we come together may be various, but the sensation behind it remains the same year after year.



My best time of the Lunar New Year is to be able to sit with my big family for dinner. We will have two dinners throughout the night. At 8pm, my grandma will bring out some cold dishes, fish, beef, and we will sit around the table. We enjoy the feast and wait for the New Year Gala to start. After finishing the first big feast, my grandma would bring out the dumplings wraps and fillings, and we start to make dumplings together.

During this time, my grandpa would always ask us grandchildren to join him to burn some 'death money' to all the gods. He would always wish the road god would protect my dad to always drive safe. He would pray for the money god to bring more fortune for the whole family. He also hated loud firework sounds, so he was always in the room. I forgot about him sometimes during the night, so asking, “Where is my grandpa” became one of my New Year's routines. My grandpa died 11 days after I left for Canada. I miss him and I miss his ridiculous praying to all the gods. Ever since, I started to treasure every minute I spend with my family and my close friends. I wish everyone have endless fun with people they love and healthy and wealthy in 2021.


Manvi Bansal

I love to celebrate New Year’s with my family. We watch movies and spend time together. I love it more because this is the only day in the whole year when all my family spend all day together, having fun and pulling each other's leg. We cook together that day too. :)


Minh Phan

Since I came to Canada in 2016, I haven’t been able to celebrate Lunar New Year with my family. I miss the food my mother would cook and I miss going to my hometown to visit my grandfather. This Lunar New Year, I am planning to go eat hot pot with my friends, though it’s not the same as celebrating with my family, but at least it will bring me joy and comfort.


Yueying Liu

The New Year of 2021 is very special for me, because this year I can choose to celebrate at home with my family. New Year is the most important day of the year for Chinese people (equivalent to Christmas). No matter where they are, everyone will choose to go home and have a reunion dinner with their families. Due to the pandemic this year, we cancelled large gatherings. We had a reunion dinner at home on the 30th of the first month (Feb. 11). We will visit relatives in the next few days. This is my favourite link because I can receive a lot of red envelopes. Although online classes have given me more time to spend with my family at home, I also miss the days of school at Dal. This year’s New Year’s resolution is: the pandemic will end soon and everything will return to normal! Happy Lunar Year to everyone!


Ngoc Song Ha Pho
Computer Science

Back when I was in junior high, I would help my family and relatives make 'banh chung' (sticky rice cake), a traditional Vietnam dish that every household has for Lunar New Year. I used to live with my grandma and she happened to have a big family, so everyone would gather in my tiny childhood home to help her prepare for the occasion. I would run around doing errands, while the adults would chat about random topics, what they planned for the New Year, when their teenagers would bring their (future) dates home, etc., as they skillfully put the ingredients into the leaves and wrapped it up to make this neat dish.

Later at night, when the little ones went to bed, the older kids would get to watch that infamous giant pot filled to the brim with dozens of banh chung, listening to the wisdom, stories, and slightly insensitive jokes of our precedent generation. We stopped doing that a few years ago as my grandma got sick. Banh chung traditionally symbolize our gratefulness for a good season, but for me, it is also stuffed with memories of a simple childhood, of a crowded gathering where families got together to perpetuate such a beautiful tradition.



My best experience was the one when we didn't party actually. Instead, we went out of the city by riding our bicycle to a nearby town where there is a small Chinese community. We had good Chinese food and there was a camping ground where we lit up many lanterns to celebrate it. We shared many good stories and spent the night gossiping. It was quite different from the rest of the Lunar New Years, but it was a memorable one.


Pengfei Ma
Arts & Social Sciences

The Spring Festival is the most important festival in China, and it is also an indispensable plot in the blood of the Chinese people. Every Chinese people will go back home and have a family dinner together on the New Year's Eve to talk about the experience of the year. “Reunion” is what every Chinese person thinks of simultaneously during the Spring Festival. Reunion may be the moment with the suitcase in the door, maybe when you eat steaming hot dumplings, or perhaps a family get-together to watch the joy of the Spring Festival Gala.


Bruce Wong

This year is different than every other Lunar New Year. My whole family gathers together and prepares special dishes like roast pork, dumplings, and ginger steamed fish. Lunar New Year in Mauritius is a bit different from other places that celebrate it. The Chinese community distributes homemade traditional cakes and sweets in cute red boxes to neighbours and friends and we all celebrate as a nation! For my parents it is the only time of the year that they take a whole week of vacation to relax and celebrate. It brings bad luck if you work during the Lunar New Year! The most exciting part when you are a kid is that you get red envelopes filled with real money from your relatives and your parents.