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Today Harrisites were able to enjoy red envelopes, dim sum, and moon cakes without having to miss a day of instruction. Lunar New Year marks the first day of the first month at the beginning of the year according to the moon cycle. For the first time, New York City public school students have had a three day weekend to celebrate the holiday.
Senior Joan Nieh states, “I always thought it was unfair how Lunar New Year wasn’t respected by the DOE, and we always had to go to school even though some schools would excuse the absences of Chinese people; if they were willing to excuse it, why didn’t they just allow us to have a day off?”
Junior Jin Li celebrates by gathering with her family and exchanging red pockets. She describes, “New Year’s is a day filled with food and family. We [first] go out for dim sum. Afterwards, we come home and just spend some time with each other while snacking on some traditional candies or cookies.”
However, the day off raises concerns about the alarming decrease in school days than previous years. In fact, the first marking period of the second semester is only sixteen days long. To this, Physics teacher John Tsai remarks, “It’s good to have a day off, [and] with the marking period being shorter, I think it shouldn’t be a big deal because we’re not going to get two tests in with or without the one day. I don’t think anybody should be stressing about it.”
According to legend, Lunar New Year originated with a fight against the “Year,” a mythical ox-like creature with the head of the lion and its home in the sea. At the night of New Year’s Eve, the “Year” comes to harm people. Being that it fears the color red, fire, and loud sounds, citizens learned to launch fireworks, hang lanterns, and distribute red envelopes to mark the end of each year.