ASO celebrates holiday with dumplings and friends

The dumplings were the star of the show Friday, Feb. 12, at the Asian Student Organization’s (ASO) celebration of Lunar New Year. The new year is a huge, sometimes month long, celebration in Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, and Mongolia, according to freshman biology and psychology major Shirley Wang. These cultures run on a lunar calendar, which places the beginning of their new year about now. Each country celebrates differently Wang said, but typical celebrations involve fireworks, giving money to children, and, yes, dumplings.

Friday night in the Bergsaker basement, about 40 people gathered in their coats and sweaters to celebrate by chatting loudly with friends and eating plenty of fried dumplings. Pop and desserts were also provided. It was a chill evening that Wang said she hoped gave Asian students the comfort of celebrating the important holiday.

Wang said the origin of the celebration remembers a monster that would attack villages, but wearing the color red would scare it away. Putting money in kids’ beds was also believed to protect them from the monster. According to Wang, making a lot of noise is thought to be protective on Lunar New Year, too. 

Reflecting that, celebrators generally wear a lot of red during the festival time, Wang said. People have several weeks off for the holiday in countries like China. Using this time, families travel to see each other, and the adults of the family give children money in red envelopes. She said most families watch the four-hour TV program leading up to the new year.

Wang, who lived in China, enjoyed celebrating the new year there, and then, she celebrated with her church when she moved to the United States. She said they would make about 1,000 dumplings as part of the celebration.

Eric Nguyen, East Hall director, and Wang first imagined putting the event together. They brought in Jazmne Thanpaeng, president of ASO, to help plan and sponsor the event. What Wang imagined as a small dinner between friends turned into a large campus event. Other events this semester with ASO could include a march movie, celebrating Hindu New Year in April, and a table event in the commons for Asian/Pacific American month in May.

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