Lunar New Year 2023: The Year of the Rabbit Ends in Tragedy

What was a day of fun for some, others didn’t experience the same fortunate consequence.


Gloria Namgung, Editor-in-Chief

For many of Asian descent, yesterday, Jan. 22, was a day of celebration and festivities for the Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is a significant holiday observed by many countries like China, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and Vietnam. 

Students in the building spent their weekends indulging in their own cultures and participating in a variety of customs and traditions for the celebration of the Lunar New Year. 

“I had a special soup called tteokguk that you typically have for New Year’s. So for Lunar New Year’s, we eat that, my family doesn’t do very much else, we just called our grandparents who live in Korea and wish them a happy New Year’s,” Min Jae Lee (12) said.

In Korea, the Lunar New Year is commonly known as seollal. During this time, traveling is often involved for celebrants to visit their family’s homes. Many children will end up wearing a Korean traditional clothing, hanbok, to present themselves to their elderly. 

“It’s [hanbok] just attire that’s just very formal for like Koreans traditionally. And then you typically wear it for New Year’s in order to celebrate and, and wish for like good luck in the new year. And you typically wear it when like, greeting your grandparents and wishing them good luck as well for the new year,” Lee said. 

The Chinese Lunar New Year called chunjie, is very similar to seollal in that many will travel to their families’ houses for quality time to enjoy each other’s presence.

“Yesterday, my cousin had a party, a Chinese New Year party and then yeah, there was just like a lot of food a lot of red decorations. Year of the Rabbit you know?” Jessica Wiridinata (11) said. 

Each year in the Lunar calendar is represented by one of the twelve zodiac animals. 2023 is the “Year of the Rabbit” which focuses on peacefulness, relaxation and prosperity. 

What was supposed to be a day of celebration and festivity for some, others didn’t have the same experience. 

Late Saturday night, a gunman shot and killed at least 11 people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio during a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California. This has been the deadliest mass shooting since the Uvalde Elementary shooting back in May.

Gunman Huu Can Tran was identified as the suspect and his motive has not yet been revealed. Although this was not a hate crime towards those of Asian descent by another person of a different race, it is still a thought that remains with many Asians and Asian Americans today.

“I just think that’s really messed up, particularly when it’s time for Lunar New Year’s, they had to like do that,” Rachel Kim (9) said.

As headlines were broadcasted that a mass shooting took place in a Chinese-owned dance studio during a Lunar New Year celebration, one can make the quick assumption that the situation was correlated with anti-Asian hate crimes that have risen significantly.

“I do definitely think that more [anti-Asian hate crime] recently due to like the pandemic and all that it’s like aggression towards Asian people has like kind of increased. But I do think that like, overall, I think aggression increased against all people as well. It’s not just Asian people, but again, specifically towards Asian people,” Lee said. 

In light of the recent unfortunate events that took place, many are still proud to represent their own cultures and broadcast them to the world.

“Just not ashamed of doing anything, being proud,” Kim said, “It’s just like, who I am.”

The Asian population in the building is secure with the idea of identifying by a different ethnicity or nationality than other students. Culture gives them something to share and talk about with others to display who they are as a person in the community.

“It gives me something to be proud of about, something to represent,” Wiriadinata said, “Last year, I remember going to like the AAPI festival and I didn’t know that it was like, sponsored by one club [Next Generation Voices] until like now and then I was just like, amazed by what they’ve been doing.” 

The past weekend filled with Lunar New Year festivities was a hit for the Asian community. Families and communities gathered to be in each other’s presence and participate in the cultures that have curated this celebration for future generations. Lunar New Year is a tradition that is rooted in culture, family and quality time.