‘Just want to keep things simple’: UBC students talk plans for another pandemic Lunar New Year

UBC students are still finding ways to celebrate Lunar New Year safely as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place for a second year.

February 1 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, an occasion normally marked by large celebrations and family gatherings.

This year, COVID-19 has once again interrupted such plans, particularly in BC where current COVID-19 restrictions prohibit indoor organized gatherings and limit the size of indoor personal gatherings. The Chinese government has also again dissuaded against travelling for the holiday.

Zihao Zhang, a graduate student in English literature and the WeChat coordinator for the AMS, usually attends the annual Lunar New Year parade in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The parade, like many in-person events, has been cancelled once again this year, however.

Zhang may be missing out on the annual parade, but they still made decorations for their home.

“I just want to keep things simple, [so] I don’t have to shop for a lot of things, so I just print[ed] some of the tiger emojis and I put them on my windows,” they said.

Zhang also made spring couplets, or poetry verses printed on red paper. “I just put them on my door, and I also made one for my cat.”

Zhang is also planning an AMS event for students to play a murder mystery game via WeChat, allowing them to “connect with friends, [and] my fellow Chinese students online” though they cannot meet in person.

Melissa Li

Fourth-year sociology student Stephanie Jiang’s celebration will also be on the smaller side this year.

“My plan for this year is just to go home and have a small celebration with my family ... my parents, my sister.”

Jiang said this year’s celebration will not be different from past year’s — her family usually keeps things small since only a few of their relatives live in Canada.

For Jiang, the New Year usually involves her family “cook[ing] a bunch of food, buy[ing] a bunch of Chinese snacks,” and watching the CCTV New Year’s Gala broadcast from China.

To avoid the danger of in-person gatherings, UBC clubs, too, are finding ways to connect and celebrate virtually. The UBC Singapore Students’ Association (SSA) is hosting a virtual celebration this coming Friday, February 4 from 6–8 p.m., which will include calligraphy activities and a themed trivia game.

“It’s the least we, as a student organization, can do to bring our community together to take part in this vibrant celebration while we are home away from home,” SSA President Keri Laoroekutai wrote in a statement to The Ubyssey.