Diversity Week: Celebrating the Lunar New Year



Photo by Joshua Lustig

The game, “Yut Nori,” played on the floor of NEIU’s Village Square.

Pablo Medina , Editor

From arts and crafts to games and dance, the Student Union building thrived with groups introducing students and faculty to important traditions, such as dinner greetings, leisurely activities, and other ways of life for certain cultures.

The Lunar New Year is typically celebrated by many Asian cultures and is dictated by cycles of the moon, rather than solar cycles. This year, the Lunar New year occurred on Feb. 19.

One display found near Alumni Hall was the Aikido demonstrations by the Japanese Culture Association in Chicago. A trainer, Ron, spoke for the group as discussions of philosophy and practice rose. Ron stressed that “People who train with us have done so in different age groups, from 13 years old to 98 years old, and we see them practice and demonstrate a certain amount of skill and strength that’s allowed for them.”

Ron assembled the group to demonstrate both equipped and unequipped battle, with members presenting astounding stance and precise movements in execution. The masters were renowned for undergoing years of training and self-discipline under the peaceful philosophy of Aikido. “Our thoughts on battling are of seeking peaceful resolutions and to avoid battles [before they even begin]…Our techniques focus on quick physical resolutions, to incapacitate the enemy….” Ron had stated before that the pain that the enemy inflicts must be equal to the pain that must be inflicted back, as a potential method of self-defense.

Upon peacefully exiting the presentation of the Aikido, a traditional game was swarming with participants joyfully tossing sticks in a square for points. The participants played Yut Nori, a traditional Korean game of luck and chance where participants toss four sticks in a square to progress a marble on a board.

Similar to the game “Sorry!” By Parker Brothers, this game predates it as a simple and enjoyable game tradition: players guide a marble around a circle (representing a horse) four times to win, using the sticks to move it along. The sticks are shaven to have a flat edge, so as to turn up or lay on the flat side. The amount of sticks that show up flat are the amount of moves for a marble; however, if all sticks turn up flat or lay on the flat side all at once, the player moves up four or five spaces, respectively. The players have the ability to stack marbles, knock enemies’ marbles out of the way, turn inside of the circle board to progress faster and have their marbles knocked off as well. Participants screamed in joy with successful stick tosses and the progression of their marbles.

Both events made for a great welcome entrance into the festival of the New Year, along with the display of origami, traditional song and dance, dinner etiquette, and overall friendly nature of all Asian culture representatives. It provided many with an interesting look into what makes these cultures positive and thriving with tradition.