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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The Georgia Student Finance Commission collaborated with 49 Georgia colleges to waive application fees in March. This removed barriers for Midtown students who were previously unable to apply to certain colleges.
Georgia Colleges waive application fees, remove barriers
Brennan FrittsApril 15, 2024

The Georgia Student Finance Commission partnered with nearly 50 colleges throughout Georgia to waive their application fees during March. Midtown...

Midtown community celebrates Lunar New Year

Mariam Darb
The ASU (Asian Student Union) celebrates Lunar New Year in a monthly meeting.

As Lunar New Year approaches on Feb. 10, preparations around Atlanta start. Shops around Chinatown began to decorate, Lunar New Year sales begin to pop up, and, for many, this is their first time celebrating in the US.

Yuan-chuan Wang, an exchange student that came from northern China half a year ago and attends Midtown, shares his family traditions.

“My favorite part is having a big family dinner with my family while watching the New Year’s show on TV,” Wang said. “The family that I am talking about here is a big family including your grandparents and maybe your cousins. The dinner is usually at my parent’s house.”

While coming to America meant that traditions cannot be celebrated the same, Wang still appreciates elements of Lunar New Year.

“In America, I can’t celebrate Chinese New Year like in China,” Wang said. “I can’t launch fireworks or have fun with my family. But it is still possible to watch the Spring Festival Gala and FaceTime with my family.”

The custom of inviting new friends to celebrate Lunar New Year is not common but is done by some, including Wang.

“Chinese New Year is usually a time with family and relatives,” Wang said. “Sometimes it will also include our close friends. Inviting new friends is not a part of the traditional New Year. But if someone is interested in the Chinese New Year, I still would like to invite them.”

Zachary Chan, a junior and leader of the Asian Student Union at Midtown, shares his plans for celebrating Lunar New Year as a club and what they’ve done in the past.

“The club is open to anyone because it’s about celebrating Asian culture,” Chan said. “We have a pretty diverse attendance. We love to see people from other cultures embracing our culture. So for Chinese New Year, we’re thinking of [something] big because that’s probably one of the most well-known Asian holidays and one of the most celebrated across the continent because Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout various times. We are looking forward to the most important celebrations.”

Talyssa Hunter, the sponsor of ASU, appreciates the awareness the club brings regarding the diversity of celebrations in different cultures.

“I know it was something that was shared by the students in the Asian Student Union because they tried to share like different cultures, Chinese, Japanese, Asian cultures and their significance just to try to create awareness,” Hunter said.

Although Hunter does not celebrate Lunar New Year, she appreciates the unity it creates between students.

“Personally, I don’t, but I do recognize that other people do, and I appreciate it,” Hunter said. “I mean, I think it’s amazing. The different milestones that people celebrate in different countries, and the different things they do for social community awareness. I love it.”

Grace Crisler, a Midtown parent who was born and raised in Taiwan, has multiple favorite traditions of Lunar New Year that she celebrates in Atlanta.

“My favorite parts about Chinese New Year are family and food and the ‘hongbao,’ which means red envelope,” Crisler said. “[It is a] red envelope you get from your parents and grandparents, and inside the envelope usually is tons of money.”

Preparations for Lunar New Year usually start a week before the actual day.

“Usually [in Taiwan] we will have a whole week to go to the markets with parents and grandparents and buy tons of food and the traditional food is hapa,” Crisler said. “Everyone will be together with all the cousins, and we have a huge celebration on Chinese New Year’s Eve. That day is the biggest because everyone will stay up until midnight waiting for their hongbao.”

Since coming to the US, Crisler continues to instill the traditions and celebrations she grew up with towards her kids while adding new experiences.

“The way I celebrate Chinese New Year in America is that when we used to live in San Francisco, I would take my kids to the local parade that lasts two hours,” Crisler said. “We will buy tons of firecrackers and just light it up and play. Of course, we will have hapa in the house, and I’ll give my kids hongbao.”

Her childhood memories during the Lunar New Year have always been a favorite for Crisler to remember, specifically playing with firecrackers to scare off Nian.

“I still remember when I was young, Chinese New Year to me was legally playing with firecrackers,” Crisler said. “My mom and dad never let me play with it because they don’t let the girls do crazy dangerous things. During Chinese New Year, me and my sister always got to play with firecrackers. There’s a story called Nian which means the monster that comes out during [Chinese New Year]. The only thing that he’s scared of is loud noise, which is the reason everyone plays with firecrackers. It’s fun [to me] and I still think about it when I celebrate.”

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About the Contributor
Mariam Darb
Mariam Darb, News Section Editor
Mariam Darb is a sophomore and this is her first year on The Southerner. Outside of school, she is involved in Fashion Club and MSA. She is excited to be on staff and start writing.

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