Friday, January 28, 2022
While most countries around the world celebrated New Year’s Day, the Asian communities of Saipan are anticipating the Lunar New Year – commonly called the Spring Festival by the Chinese community and Seollal by the Korean community. The Lunar New Year will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 1, ushering in renewal and good luck for the year ahead.
Chinese Community of Saipan invites residents to enjoy Spring Festival
By Rose Chan
For as long as I’ve been on Saipan, I’ve celebrated the new year twice – first on Jan. 1 and then on Lunar New Year, what the Chinese community refers to as the “Spring Festival”. 2022 marks the Year of the Tiger, the third animal in the Chinese zodiac.
Growing up, my family members would be working far away from home. They would make the journey home the day before Lunar New Year to celebrate. Long ago, my family would arrive by foot or horse and finally, they would be together before the big celebration. We’d have a big family feast and enjoy everyone’s presence.
Traditionally, a week before the Spring Festival, Asian people will clean to sweep out bad luck from the previous year. In China, the Spring Festival signifies new beginnings and offers good luck for the rest of the year. Similar to the local community, we’d “amen” or give blessings to the elderly.
Most people have experienced the Lunar New Year’s famous red lion dance. The lion would move to the beat of the drums playing in the background. This iconic experience signifies the chasing of evil spirits that may be lurking around you, which is why we give out hóngbāo, the red envelope filled with money, to family and friends. The envelopes are gifts of good wishes and good luck for the years ahead.
On behalf of our local Chinese community, I encourage everyone to stop by Feb. 1 to enjoy the lion dance in front of the TSL Plaza at 10 a.m. or the JP Center at 10:20 a.m. It is a great time to embrace the positive traditions of the Lunar New Year like getting rid of the bad and old and welcoming the new and the good.
For our Chinese community, the Marianas may be a second home, but we take pride in being a part of the local community. We will continue to do our part to help make the Marianas a great place to live for all its residents. One of our biggest projects continues to be the adoption of the Susupe Beach Park through GCEA’s Public Private Partnership program. We have committed to maintaining it for the next five years.
We look forward to the Year of the Tiger and more positive things to come for the Marianas. Gong Xi Fa Cai (Happy New Year)!
Korean Community of Saipan celebrates Seollal by connecting with family
By Yu, Ji Kwang
The Korean Community refers to the Lunar New Year as "Seollal", which is the most celebrated holiday in South Korea. It's celebrated to mark the passage into a new year, and it is a time for families to gather together, pay respect to our ancestors, and feast. Seollal's celebration lasts for three days, starting the day before and ending the day after the Lunar New Year.
The week leading up to Seollal in Saipan, we shop for gifts, like fresh fruits or gift baskets, to give to our friends or neighbors. We don’t celebrate Seollal in Saipan as we do in Korea since it isn’t a legal holiday in Saipan. Also, most Korean people in Saipan have their families and relatives in Korea, so we don't have large family gatherings in Saipan. However, on the day of Seollal, we celebrate by cooking Tteokguk, a rice cake soup, a common Seollal dish prepared at home to share with friends and neighbors. Family members dress up or wear the traditional Korean dress called hanbok and gather in front of a table prepared for the ancestral rite.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Korean Community of Saipan used to host a Seollal party. Korean businesspeople would donate cash, food, and presents for the festival. We’d have about 400-500 people who would attend and enjoy our Seollal party. Amidst the pandemic, we will keep everyone safe by celebrating at home and calling our families in Korea to catch up on what we’ve missed.
The Korean Community of Saipan would like to wish everyone a Happy Lunar New Year or Saehae Bok Mani Badeuseyo! This year, we hope that the pandemic will end, and our visitors will be able to return. From our community to yours, we wish you a safe and wonderful year!
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rose Chan, Vice President of the Chinese Association of Saipan and Yu, Ji Kwang is the Chairman of the Korean Community of Saipan.