By Erica Xie

The start of a new year also comes with the culturally rich months of January and February. These two months hold many spirited and beloved festivities. the biggest of which include Lunar New Year and Black History Month.

On Sat., Jan. 28, many East Asian countries and communities celebrated Lunar New Year, the first day of the year according to the lunar calendar.  This holiday is characterized with red envelopes for the children (or the unmarried) and the gathering of families to begin the new year.  Each individual family or community may have different traditions from each other.

For some, they visit the temple to pray for a fruitful year, while others have a big dinner with family.  There is a variety of different types of clothing and food available, including but not limited to the Vietnamese dress for girls áo dài, the Chinese cake nián gāo or any type of red clothing.

A tradition in my family, for example, is cleaning the house and wearing some sort of new clothing to start the year off lucky. There’s a lot of fēng shuǐ (superstition) involved in the customs during Lunar New Year and many of the traditions are play on words to ensure a good year ahead.  An example of this is the previously mentioned nián gāo, which means cake but also sounds like the characters for “high year.”

In addition, February is Black History Month, a month meant to raise awareness and appreciation for the often untold or overlooked stories of African Americans.  This event developed more recently than Lunar New Year, sprouting from “Negro History Week.”

The month was first recognized by the American government in 1976. During the years of the Civil Rights Movement, Black History Month grew with increasing popularity.

Each year, a theme is designated to the month.  This year, in 2017, the theme is “The Crisis in Black Education” (ASALH).  ASALH (Association for the Study of African American Life and History) provides an annual Black History Month kit which contains a Black History Bulletin that aims to help teachers and event coordinators design lesson plans around the annual theme to give a voice to the voiceless (madamenoire.com). Piedmont Hills’ own BSU (Black Student Union) is also presenting a person of the day with short descriptions of his or her’s achievements of contributions during announcements.

These cultures truly bring a richness to the unique and eclectic aura of America.  As the media and education progressively integrates cultural aspects into their everyday lives more cultures will be accepted and celebrated in society.

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