Year of the Rabbit celebrated at City College

The first celebration of the Lunar New Year on campus draws crowd of dozens


Thomas Tsai, president of the Asian & Pacific Islander Student Alliance (APSA), left, talks with San Diego City College President Ricky Shabazz, right, at the school’s inaugural Chinese Lunar New Year celebration to commemorate the Year of the Rabbit at San Diego City College, Feb. 7, 2023. Photo by Shamere Grimes

Shamere Grimes, Multimedia Journalist

A sunny afternoon in Curran Plaza at San Diego City College was the perfect backdrop for the first celebration of the Lunar New Year on the downtown campus on Feb.7.

Lunar New Year is an important holiday in East and Southeast Asian countries including China, Vietnam and Korea. The holiday celebrates the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar calendar, according to an article written by the National Museum of Asian Art.

“This idea of prosperity, abundance, protecting from evil, this is what the Chinese Lunar New Year is about,” according to Jan Stuart the Melvin R. Selden Curator of Chinese Art at the Freer and Sackler.

Each year in the lunar calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals included in the cycle of 12 stations or signs. The 12 zodiac animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This year represented the year of the rabbit.

Students, faculty and staff at the event were given the opportunity to hang their own wishes for the new year by writing them on decorative paper and hanging them on a string. This allows the wishes to be seen by everyone and to have them reach even the ancestors, according to an article by China Highlights.

Hanging wishes, whether it be for health, fortune, or prosperity for the new year, eating traditional dishes, and dancing are all part of the traditions that come with the celebration.

At City College, Curran Plaza was also covered in paper lanterns and decorations, such as paper dragons, banners, and even Lego. 

A Lego centerpiece meant to symbolize the lion dance, which has been done for thousands of years to ward off evil spirits and bring happy moods to those who see it, was presented.

Students from the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Alliance gave out T-shirts and gift cards for the campus bookstore inside traditional red envelopes.

The Golden Chopsticks restaurant in National City provided the food for the event.

Center on Policy Initiatives organizer Jean-Huy Tran joined the event, telling students about an internship opportunity with his organization to help with projects about social and economic justice.

 “Whether it be social justice, economic justice, racial justice, you name it, we will teach you that,” Tran said.

Thomas Tsai, president of APSA, said he wants the celebration to become an annual occurrence at City College.

“Seeing events like this as an Asian myself makes me feel like we have a community here,” Tsai said.

According to 2022 statistics from the San Diego Community College District, 7 percent of students at City College identify as Asian-American. SDCCD-wide, that number is 10 percent.