San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Celebrating Lunar New Year from east to west

Lunar New Year’s cultural impact in the West has finally been recognized in California, with San Diego being ahead of the curb
Isabella Biunno
Angela Subido stands elated next to a dragon costume at the celebration.

With Governor Gavin Newsom signing Assembly Bill 2596, Lunar New Year is now an official holiday in California. By recognizing it as a state holiday, Newsom acknowledges the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California, as well as an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the significance of the Lunar New Year.

Similar to the universally recognized new year celebration based on the Gregorian calendar, this lunisolar calender-based holiday promotes a fresh start. However, the main differentiation involves its length of 15-days, as well as the gifting of what is called “lucky money” being handed out to children or younger unmarried relatives. 

Fourth-year mechanical engineering student and Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Center member Xavier Major is reluctant to be excited for the holiday’s recognition.

“It’s kind of an ‘about time’ kind of thing,” Major said. “It’s great for people to stay connected in their culture, while also participating in American society and allowing them to coexist.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Asian-Americans make up around 17% of California’s population when factoring in those with partial Asian ancestry, which aligns with San Diego’s Asian population of also around 17%. 

San Diego has always been a hotspot for the holiday’s festivities, with a variety of different areas of the city planning for the Year of the Rabbit (or cat if celebrating in Vietnamese culture), including Mira Mesa, Balboa Park and downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter. Specifically, Mira Mesa held their annual Tết festival, which celebrates the holiday from the Vietnamese perspective, with its most notable difference shown in the Vietnamese Zodiac where the rabbit is replaced with a cat. 

Four performers from Luky Lion Dancers take the stage at the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union to celebrate Lunar New Year. (Isabella Biunno)

At San Diego State University, the APIDA Center honored Lunar New Year by hosting a lion dance performance on Jan 23., as well as giving a presentation on the significance of dumplings in Asian culture on Feb 5. 

During a post-presentation speech at the dumpling event,  Virginia Loh-Hagan, director of the APIDA Center, emphasized the significance of truly understanding the meaning behind the holiday rather than just celebrating out of habit.

Along with her role as the APIDA director, Loh-Hagan is a writer of over 400 children’s books, such as Nian, The Chinese New Year Dragon, and PoPo’s Lucky Chinese New Year, making her one of the premier voices in the APIDA community not only on campus but also in San Diego.

Loh-Hagan gave her perspective on the Lunar New Year holiday in the APIDA community.

“Lunar New Year is the most festive and important holiday for many East Asian, Southeast Asian and APIDA communities,” Loh-Hagan said. “It is a time of new beginnings and reunions. Family and community are at the heart of this holiday.” 

The Year of the Rabbit (or Cat in Vietnamese culture), is described by the zodiac as a year of longevity, peace, and prosperity. With this holiday being significantly recognized, the predictions of the new year align with the hope that is expected for upcoming prospects.  

About the Contributors
Huy Huynh, Staff Writer
Huy Huynh was born and raised in San Diego, California and attended Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro. After graduating, he studied at Grossmont College, right before transferring to San Diego State University as a psychology major with a minor in Digital and Social Media Studies. In his free time, he enjoys reading, making music, or creating videos, which he also does for work as a freelance videographer/editor. He is currently a staff writer for the Daily Aztec, working in multiple sections such as Arts and Culture as well as the News section. Huy is also bilingual in Vietnamese.
Isabella Biunno, '23-24 Photo Editor
Isabella Biunno (she/her/hers) is a photographer for The Daily Aztec. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada where she was a part of yearbook and publications for nearly six years. She is a first-year Psychology major with an emphasis in neuroscience, and she plans to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. She loves photography, editing, and creating, and she can’t wait to continue shooting content for the DA. One thing she is passionate about outside of photojournalism is being involved in the disability/Autism community. She is a part of SDSU’s Adapted Athletics club, and she worked as an Instructor at a company back home called Inclusion Fusion where she was able to work with people with disabilities. Although her career-related passions fall in the healthcare field, she enjoys taking pictures and covering photo events just as much. She looks forward to expanding her experience as a photographer as well as capturing some astounding shots this year.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Celebrating Lunar New Year from east to west