Celebrating the Year of the Pig at I-House

新年快乐! Happy New Year, everybody! Lunar New Year is about seeing loved ones and eating delicious foods, which is probably why it’s one of my all-time favourite holidays. Singaporeans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc. all celebrate the Lunar New Year as a national holiday.

As someone who is half-Singaporean-Chinese, I grew up associating Lunar New Year with the Zodiac, and, in particular, associating each year with a specific animal.

This tradition comes from a legend that’s been passed down for centuries. The folk tale tells us about how Buddha decided to host a great feast in the heavens. He decided to invite all the animals on earth, and everyone was very excited!

Upon hearing the news, Cat invited his best friend, Rat, to travel with him, and asked Rat to wake him up early in the morning, so that they could be the first to arrive. Unfortunately, Rat forgot to wake him up, and Cat never made it to the feast.

However, 12 animals did – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. This order became the order for the Chinese Zodiac, and each year corresponds to a different animal.

This year, 2019, is the Year of the Pig. While some Westerners might associate pigs with dirt and laziness, pigs actually represent wealth and prosperity, and the festivities this year will be a lot of fun.

This week, International House hosted a Lunar New Year Dinner. On February 7th, we enjoyed seafood tofu soup, Nian Gao (glutinous rice cake), sesame balls, and more in the dining commons!

If you want to have some good luck in the new year, I recommend continuing eating spring rolls, fruit, and noodles for the rest of the week, so that you can enjoy wealth and longevity.

While UC Berkeley won’t put off school and homework, there will be plenty of events on-campus and around the Bay Area for the rest of the week. Does your culture celebrate Lunar New Year? Do you have any special traditions? Let us know!

And, whether you’re observing a traditional celebration, or exploring a new culture, I hope you have fun, and I wish you a happy and healthy new year!

About Loyalty Traster-Lee

Loyalty Traster-Lee was a senior at UC Berkeley majoring in anthropology. She was born and raised in Long Beach, California, but has traveled extensively, including attending kindergarten in Singapore, volunteering with the Lions Club in Germany, and studying abroad in England. Loyalty's favourite Berkeley sights include the Botanical Gardens and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, which, for the record, are both within walking distance of each other and free with student identification. Loyalty graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2019, but considers living at I-House to be one of the highlights of her undergraduate experience.
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