Celebrating Lunar New Year in a pandemic

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Amid the pandemic, growing Anti-Asian sentiment across the country and the formation of the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate movement as Asian communities’ response to racism and xenophobia, celebrations for Lunar New Year were markedly different from any other in the past.

This 2021, many of us were on campus or socially distancing at home. Meals were eaten alone inside our dorms and in front of Zoom screens instead of at dining tables during big family reunions. 

Despite this, communities adapted and the spirit of starting anew remains. Prayer sessions are limited to 10 people, but the temple was open for us to light incense. Masks are mandatory at the market, but we can still buy kumquat trees and branches of peach blossoms.

Perhaps you might not have been able to get as many red envelopes as you did last year, and maybe you didn’t clean up your room as much as you should have before the 12th, but there’s always time to treat yourself to a lucky orange and call your grandparents and loved ones if you didn’t already. The year of the Ox symbolizes prosperity and emphasizes putting special care into our relationships with others. May the new year bring you all good fortune and reward you for your hard work.

Crystal Chen studies from inside her dorm with Lunar New Year dishes. (Photo: CRYSTAL CHEN / The Stanford Daily)
Lanterns draped outside the Stanford Shopping Mall. (Photo: CRYSTAL CHEN / The Stanford Daily)
Pho bowl offered at Wilbur Dining. (Photo: ANDY HUYNH / The Stanford Daily)
Stores are offering lucky fruit for the New Year. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
For Jack Scala, this year was his first time seeing Lunar New Year celebrations and food. (Photo: Courtesy of Jack Scala)
Late night outside the Buddhist temple in Reseda, California. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
Small jewelry businesses have decorated for the new year. Many are selling gold figurines of the zodiac animals. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
Flower branches for decorating the home. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
Stanford offers a Lunar New Year inspired meal at dining halls. (Photo: CRYSTAL CHEN / The Stanford Daily)
Red envelopes and bánh tét on display in the storefront. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
Bright yellow chrysanthemums are a popular purchase for Vietnamese families celebrating. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)
Vendors are open for business at an outdoor market at Asian Garden Mall in Orange County. (Photo: HANA DAO / The Stanford Daily)

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Crystal Chen ’24 from Southern California contributes to Podcasts and Photo/Video for the Daily. She is interested in studying Human Biology and finding the best iced almond milk latte around. Contact her at [email protected]