Middle School celebrates Lunar New Year

Middle School celebrates Lunar New Year

The Middle School kicked off Lunar New Year one day early with a Feb. 9 celebration that offered fun activities, interactive games, and interesting information about the holiday. 

Creative Director Paul Khan (left)
demonstrated traditional Korean games

Sponsored by the Middle School Asian Affinity Group, the event began during community time in the Forum as Yvonne Guo ‘29 and Emily Li ‘29 shared how they celebrate Chinese (Lunar) New Year with their families. The holiday, they said, involves visiting family, eating delicious food, decorating the house with lanterns, and enjoying fireworks shows. Another tradition is for children to receive red envelopes filled with cash from family members. According to one centuries-old legend, the holiday started when a village scared off a dragon with loud noises, bright lights, and the color red. 

Creative Director Paul Kahn P ‘27, ‘30, the affinity group’s advisor, welcomed students to the celebration. While the many cultures of Asia are certainly not monolithic (e.g., several do not even celebrate Lunar New Year), he highlighted how learning about the commonalities and differences among them — as well as with other world cultures — is important for everyone to grow and learn about one another. The key, he said, is to explore both with curiosity — and to not be surprised at how strikingly similar a seemingly different culture is to one’s own.  

After that, it was activity time. Students had a choice of going to seven different stations, each representing a Lunar New Year or Asian tradition. Activities included the history of the Chinese zodiac, a chopsticks demonstration, origami (paper folding), traditional Korean games, K-Pop music and dancing, and fun quiz games on the geography of Asia and vexillology (the study of flags). The Upper School even got involved, as Upper School Mandarin Chinese teacher Nai-I Finney — along with three of her students: John Pompilio ’26, Zach Sarmanian ’26, and Ethan Xie ’26 — showed Middle School students a 3D paper cutting demonstration of the Chinese character 春 (chūn) — which means “spring.” Lunar New Year is referred to as the “Spring Festival” in China.

Upper School Chinese Faculty Nai-I Finney
(left) showed Middle School students a
3D paper cutting demonstration

Kahn thanked affinity group members for their hard work and also thanked faculty and staff members who assisted with the day. In addition to Finney, those included: Middle School Collaborative Design Lab Director Marie Jimenez; Middle School Choral Director Jeff King ‘04; Middle School English teacher Ellie Goldrick; Assistant Director of DEIB and Middle School Counselor Sarah Miller; Middle School Diversity Coordinator and Middle School Latin teacher Richie Iskra; and Middle School English and history teacher Carla Dash.

Lunar New Year, which is celebrated across Asia and around the world, began Feb. 10. This year the holiday, which always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, marks the Year of the Dragon.

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