While Lunar New Year celebrations are usually full of excitement and festivities, Yalies are having to find alternative ways of celebrating due to the pandemic. 

The Lunar New Year happens at the start of the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar used in countries across Asia like China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Yalies in normal times join together to celebrate this holiday with festive lo mein in the dining hall during residential college dinners and the Lunar Ball, an annual dance held to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Unfortunately due to the pandemic and the two-week residential college quarantine, Yalies have had to celebrate the year of the Ox on a smaller scale.

“It is much more difficult to hold large events where people can truly engage with one another virtually,” wrote Mary He ’24, social chair of Yale’s Chinese American Students Association, in an email to the News. “Over Zoom, the spirit and high energy that characterizes CASA and Lunar Ball are missing.”

East Asian student groups have organized hands-on activities to create festive spirit surrounding the holiday. CASA planned a lantern-making event with the Yale-China Association on Feb. 26 for the Lantern Festival, where 36 club members will receive lantern-making supplies for the event. 

The Taiwanese American Society plans to host a calligraphy event on Feb. 27. Students can pick up calligraphy kits filled with red cardstock, traditional candy in red envelopes and tang yuan — a traditional dessert served during Lunar New Year consisting of a glutinous rice ball with a sweet filling. 

Due to supply limitations for lantern making and calligraphy, a large number of students will be unable to participate in these events.

“We have already exceeded the signups for CASA, so we are looking for a way to get more materials and open the event to more members,” He wrote.

Groups are also organizing virtual activities for students. The Vietnamese Students Association is having “e-red envelopes,” a virtual version of the traditional red envelope. Throughout the month of February, students can fill out a Google Form to send Happy New Year messages to their loved ones. 

Students have also been finding their own unique ways to celebrate Lunar New Year with their suitemates and friends at Yale. 

“This Lunar New Year, I’m channeling my thoughts and efforts into comfort food for my friends, who I know are missing their family just as much as I am,” Anna Tran ’22 said. 

Tran has been missing the signature Lunar New Year dishes at home and has been trying to replicate the dishes. 

Students who are enrolled remotely for the semester are celebrating Lunar New Year with their families at home this year. 

Brian Chang ’22 is excited to be spending Lunar New Year at home this year for the first time since coming to Yale because the holiday usually falls in the middle of the spring semester. 

“This is my first time being home for Lunar New Year for a few years, so being able to share a large dinner with my parents was really heartwarming,” Chang said. 

Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days and culminates in a Lantern Festival on Feb. 26. 

Sanchita Kedia | sanchita.kedia@yale.edu