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農曆新年快樂! (Happy Lunar New Year!) - The Year of the Rabbit

農曆新年快樂! (Happy Lunar New Year!) - The Year of the Rabbit

Silicon Valley International School (INTL) is excited to once again celebrate Lunar New Year! The celebration, also known as the Spring Festival, signals the coming of spring and the start of the new lunar year in the traditional Chinese solar calendar. This year, the new year officially begins on January 22, 2023.

Deeply rooted in history and tradition, the Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the year for the Chinese people and nations with ancestral ties to China. Festivities take place throughout Asia including Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, North Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Brunei, and across the entirety of mainland China. Additionally, celebrations take place across the country here in the United States with the largest, and oldest, celebration taking place in San Francisco.

The first celebration in San Francisco happened in 1858 where a parade took place with Chinese traditions of flags, drums, and lanterns adorning the streets. Our school (formerly known as International School of the Peninsula) participated in the annual San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade for many years, winning 1st and 2nd place in the Amateur Float Category! 

The Lion Dancers performing for the students on campus.

Since the beginning of our immersive Chinese program in 1996, we have celebrated the Lunar New Year by bringing festivities to campus for all our students to enjoy. The favorite for everyone alike is the annual lion dance, a millennia old tradition in China. The lion symbolizes power and wisdom and the dance is performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year. This dance of joy brings happiness to all who get to experience its splendor. Students from all language programs were able to enjoy the performance on both campuses.

Taking the celebration inside, the halls of Cohn and Willows campuses were lined with traditional lanterns and decorations in celebration. The students even got involved in the Early Years Programme as they made their own lanterns in class as they learned about the history and stories of the festival.

An Early Years student and her teacher paint a rabbit on a handmade lantern.

The many traditions of the Lunar New Year — from the decorations, to the delicious foods, and gifts — are meant to be shared with family and to bring people together. That is the tradition we love the most here at INTL; bringing everyone together to share cultures and customs from around the world. One of the best ways to do so is through a delicious bite as students were treated to 年糕 “nián gāo'' sweet dessert after lunch. It is considered good luck to eat 年糕 “nián gāo” to start the year, and all the treats were made by families for all to share and passed out by our wonderful parent volunteers. 

A volunteer mom holding a tray of nian gao giving her daughter a hug.

As a reminder, there is no school on Monday, January 23rd in observance of Lunar New Year and so those who celebrate will be able to connect with their loved ones around the world and ring in the Year of the Rabbit together!

Throughout the coming weeks after the initial celebration, students will take part in harmonization exercises that will continue to teach about Chinese culture and the significance of the new year. The activities range from watching videos about how the new year is celebrated in different countries to paper folding and calligraphy lessons to dragon art contests.

Two Early Years students in the arms of their mothers reaching up to show them their names on the lanterns they painted.

Embracing traditions and understanding their importance is what makes us who we are as a school and is the essence of what makes us who we are as a people. We look forward to celebrating this year and many more years to come.

May the new year bring new possibilities, new horizons, and new joys. We wish you great happiness and prosperity. 農曆新年快樂! (Happy Lunar New Year!)

Seven elementary school girls wearing traditional red dresses for luck in the new year.

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