UC Santa Barbara’s Hong Kong Student Association hosted its Lunar New Year night market on Feb. 3, celebrating the holiday through the sharing of food, activities and performances.
The event was held at Storke Plaza in collaboration with the Japanese Student Association, Taiwanese Student Association and International Student Association. All three clubs had individual stands showcasing various food options and cultural activities.
The night also featured performances from UCSBreakin’, a competitive breakdancing performance club, and SS805 and Ready Beat Go! Dance Crew, both K-pop dance teams on campus.
The Hong Kong Student Association (HKSA) showcased an array of cultural foods to celebrate Lunar New Year, including fish balls, shumai, sugar-coated strawberries, crackers and drinks.
This was one of HKSA’s biggest events of the year, calling for extensive planning since the beginning of fall quarter, according to the organization’s Public Relations Intern and second-year environmental studies major Brian Kwong.
Though a historical tradition for HKSA, External President Megan Cheung spoke to the night market being a new endeavor for them and the board, saying that this was the first year the night market was held since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This whole event was completely new to all of us because we don’t have any ideas on how to do it or how to get funding from the school,” she said.
Cheung said the event planners ran into various technical difficulties with running the night market, from a lack of lighting at Storke Plaza to delays in getting utensils for the dishes.
“The starting was a little bit messy,” they said. “People were making food and eating in the dark, so [we] had to send someone to Target to buy lights.”
Kwong said that, despite this, the market came to life, highlighting that the sharing of foods and cultures with performances throughout the night from multiple organizations created a sense of a campus community.
“Obviously a night market just from us would have been fun, but it was so much cooler to see different performances from different groups … made it really feel like a campus community,” he said. “Especially around a time when there’s a lot going on in the world, Lunar New Year is a time to celebrate so it’s great to have that sense of community.”
Cheung said that celebrating Lunar New Year at UCSB entails creating a sense of home away from home.
“Lunar New Year is literally one of the biggest holidays in a lot of Asian countries,” she said. “A lot of schools don’t really have a holiday for Lunar New Year, but that feeling [for Lunar New Year] still matters and we can still celebrate together.”
In light of recent acts of violence like the shooting of Monterey Park — which occurred on Lunar New Year’s Eve — Kwong emphasized that creating a space of joy and community is especially important right now for Asian students at UCSB.
“We’ve all been really affected … especially to have it happen around Lunar New Year, which is a time when a lot of people celebrate,” he said. “I think it’s really important to have events like these to remind people that even though there’s a lot going on, there’s still spaces where we can go and celebrate and feel safe.”
Kwong applauded HKSA and the other entities involved for their efforts in bringing together the night market and considered the night a success.
“I’m really glad that everyone had a great time organizing this and working everything out,” he said. “It’s really great to see a project get built and see a final result where we had long lines and people were everywhere. It was just a great time.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 6 of the Feb. 9, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.