University of Wisconsin student organizations are hosting events to celebrate the Lunar New Year and the beginning of The Year of the Tiger, which started Feb. 1 this year.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in several Asian countries including Singapore, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and South Korea.

Lam Nguyen, who is the president of the Vietnamese Student Association, said the Lunar New Year — called Tết in Vietnam — is significant to Vietnamese students because it signifies the beginning of a new year.

According to Nguyen, it is a good opportunity for Vietnamese students to gather together to experience community and to remind them of their values.

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Nguyen named several important traditions in Vietnamese culture that will happen at this event. The celebration will include Banh Chung, a special rice cake with ingredients provided by farmers to represent the hard work of their people. Banh Chung also represents the earth, while their other cake, banh day, represents the sky. Nguyen said that these cakes are a way of uniting Vietnamese people from all across the globe because they know that they will all eat the same food on the same day.

In addition to eating special Vietnamese cakes, Nguyen said the VSA will also perform a skit at the event that illustrates the origin of the cakes. There will be a special prayer ritual to wish everyone good luck in the new year at the beginning of the event.

Last year, the VSA was unable to host in-person Tết celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic — and that’s why this year is special, Nguyen said. This will be the first time in two years that UW’s Vietnamese students will have this sense of community of celebration of their culture.

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Nguyen felt that this could be a positive learning experience for those who are not part of Vietnamese culture, and they should attend anyway.

“Everyone at this Madison campus is welcome,” Nguyen said. “It is free and open to all students, faculty and staff.”

The Malaysian Student Association is also hosting an event for the Lunar New Year that is open to anyone at the university, according to MSA member Jai.

Jai said the goal is to provide opportunities to Malaysian students to celebrate their heritage and traditions. Jai compared it to a homecoming event where families gather together to celebrate and enjoy food together.

Jai said the event will involve a meal and a special dance, along with some Chinese games. Anyone is welcome to attend if they pay a $10 fee — which additionally allows them to attend any future MSA for free.

The Japanese Student Association is organizing Setsubun celebration on Feb. 5 with karaoke, food and music. In addition, the Chinese American Student Association will host its annual Lunar New Year banquet Feb. 12 with a number of activities and performances at Union South. Students, faculty and staff who are interested in attending Lunar New Year celebrations can RSVP here.