Traditional Lunar New Year Celebrations: Meet Jenny Le

Lunar New Year is a festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunar calendar and is celebrated by Asian countries such as Vietnam, China and Korea, to name a few. According to Quynh Le, who everyone knows as Jenny Le, Lunar New Year is everything from family, fun, having meals together and sending best wishes to all. The celebration lasts 10 days. 

Jenny Le is from Ho Chi Minh City, a southern city in Vietnam, and is in her second year of the Bachelor of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Cape Breton University. Prior to this, Jenny Le attended Amherst Regional High School in Amherst, Nova Scotia for two years. She loved the friendliness of all those on the east coast so much, she knew she wanted to continue her education here. Jenny Le is also the CBU Students’ Union Multicultural Hub Centre Coordinator, where she helps bring awareness to the many cultures at CBU to all students on campus. 

Jenny Le describes what Lunar New Year celebrations look like back at home in Vietnam. “Everything would be covered in all of the brightest colours like gold, bright blues, greens, and especially red because we believe red brings good luck to everyone,” says Jenny Le. “We would buy many plants with colourful flowers to brighten up the house and bring a meaning of growth.” 

In true Vietnamese tradition, Jenny Le and her family would deep clean their house before Lunar New Year. In the first three days of the New Year, it is believed that you should not sweep the floor because you will be “sweeping” away your luck and money. “In a typical year, we would also have a family gathering with relatives and cousins, go to our ancestors’ gravestones to clean up, make a farewell, say some prayers, and decorate with flowers,” describes Jenny Le. “We believe this is how we show love to our loved ones who have passed away. It’s also a way to show respect and include them in our Lunar New Year celebrations as it’s important to have everyone gather together.”  

Lunar New Year may look different this year, but Jenny Le is still trying to spread cheer by volunteering to help send Lunar New Year gifts to Vietnamese students across Nova Scotia. She will also make a traditional Lunar New Year meal, put on her traditional clothes and FaceTime with her family. This is how she is bringing a taste of home to Cape Breton and believes all the small details will still bring the excitement of Lunar New Year together.  

On behalf of Cape Breton University and the Cape Breton University Students’ Union, Jenny Le would like to wish you all a Happy Lunar New Year, and hopes this will help students understand a new culture, even though they don’t celebrate it.