China isn’t the only country to celebrate a New Year


Douglas MacDonald

Traditional colorful lanterns used in Lunar New Year celebrations.

Isaac Cho, Staff writer

As a Korean-American, I take great pride in my heritage and roots and am very proud to call myself a Korean. I love the culture, the language, and people, and am always excited whenever I see others being able to enjoy the aspects of Korean culture. 

Unfortunately, it can often be done in an incorrect manner. Not many people are well educated in the differences in the vast Asian cultures and this leads to many misconceptions.

Korea is a relatively small country in Asia, located to the south of China, and west of Japan. Being in between these two very well-known Asian countries has contributed to Korea often not being recognized, and until recently, has not been given much attention. However, thanks to a surge in Korean culture in America, such as foods like bibimbop and kimchi as well as K-Pop, people have started to show appreciation and positivity towards Korea. 

Lunar New Year is coming up this February 12th, and it is a very important time for many different Asian groups, especially Koreans. This time of the year is always filled with celebration and joy and is always something to look forward to. Korean culture has many great traditions for this time of year and Lunar New Year is always a fun holiday for myself and others. 

Unfortunately, for a while now, Lunar New Year has been primarily known as “Chinese New Year”. This is due to the fact that it has not been recognized that other Asian countries also partake in the celebration.  

This common incorrect misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many different Asian cultures, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Korea, and Thailand each have their own traditions and important aspects that they all bring to the Lunar New Year celebration, and should all be recognized. 

For example, Koreans bring their traditions to Lunar New Year in the form of Seollal. This is the first day of the Korean calendar and is extremely important. During this time, Koreans wear traditional clothing called Hanbok, play games, and partake in Sebae. Sebae is a ritual in which people wish their elders a Happy New Year through bows, and are then gifted money for this. These experiences help the holiday feel extra special to me and makes me feel proud of who I am.

When people refer to Lunar New Year as “Chinese New Year”, it personally makes me feel very overlooked, as if my culture does not matter to others. Additionally, it feels as though I am not getting the recognition I deserve as a person, and it feels as though my traditions are being taken away from me.

Calling it “Chinese New Year” does nothing but allude that no other Asian country has any relation to Lunar New Year, and this is completely false. It’s very important, especially in such a diverse place like America, that we recognize and learn from each other’s backgrounds and cultures, in order to understand one another.  

In a time such as this, it is very crucial that we make an even stronger effort to recognize our differences and make sure we don’t make similar mistakes made in the past. I hope everyone can learn more from each other and become higher educated especially during the Lunar New Year.