IMG 0463 e1580531429701 683x1024 - Lunar New Year celebrated at UNL
The Big Head Buddha dances for guests during the Lunar New Year celebration in the Ballroom at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday. “The Buddha traditionally is the lion’s best friend,” said Ray Petersen, Director of Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association. “Originally they were antagonist. Over the course of some back and forth, the become very good friends.” Photo by Seth Marshall

While most countries celebrate the New Year on Jan. 1, the Chinese New Year for 2020 started on January 25, and will be celebrated for 16 days.

The Lunar New Year — also Chunjie or Spring Festival — is a celebration of family and bringing good luck. It follows the Chinese lunar calendar. This year it is the year of the rat.

Asian student organizations like Asian Student Union, Sigma Psi Zeta, Lamda Phi Epsilon and other clubs and organizations at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln worked to bring activities, food, dances, and entertainment as well as education to the ballroom of the Nebraska Union on Friday.

“It is celebrated in Asian countries,” Jennifer Au, a member of the Asian Student Union says, “It is welcoming the New Year.”

Each country celebrates the Lunar New Year differently. This can be from different traditions like clothing. Au, who is Vietnamese, wore a traditional dress called an Ao Dai while Cheongsam is a traditional Chinese dress from Shanghai.

Good fortune and good luck are key themes for the celebration. Families in China come together, which starts a large migration of people to return home. Depending on the region, large meals are shared and families spend time together through games like Xiangqi.

“It’s the Chinese version of chess,” said associate director of the Confucius Center, Christopher Heston.

Heston, who spent time studying in Beijing, hopes these kinds of events bring cultural awareness to the community.

One of the main attractions for any Chinese event is the elaborate Lion Dances which have two people under a large costume. The lion signifies the scaring away of bad luck and bringing in good luck along with his accomplice the Big Head Buddha. The legend has been passed down for ages.

“It is a very old tradition,” Ray Petersen, director of Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association, said.

The Lion Dance was performed from the Jing Mo Tong Athletic Association. They are both a martial arts club and a lion dance center. There are different dances, but Lion Dances are for any occasion from weddings to even funerals.

“Tonight, we played a wine routine,” Petersen said. “It is symbolically of sharing a drink with your friends and enjoying yourself during the New Year.”

If there was one theme for the night, it was togetherness.

“The most important part of the Chinese New Year is togetherness,” Petersen said. “Remembering to visit each other and showing each other kindness and love.”

Senior at University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying journalism with a focus on photojournalism. I’m a part of UNITE as social outreach. I participate in other events and organizations that are associated with the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center. I’m an active photographer, my specialties include sports and feature photography. I enjoy biking, board games, and reading.