Group photo before the feast

Celebrating the Lunar New Year Miles Away from Home

Hey everyone! It’s been a hot minute since our last blog post. In Stockholm, the snow and ice have melted away, making room for the fresh breath of spring. February isn’t just bidding winter goodbye; it’s ushering in the Lunar New Year with a flourish of excitement, reflection, and, most importantly, celebration. On the 10th of February, my friends and I put together an international lunch to share this beautiful festival with our entire class. It was my first time ringing in the Lunar New Year abroad, and what an adventure it was! We encouraged everyone to bring a favorite dish from home, turning our table into a mosaic of New Year celebrations from different cultures.

The Essence of the Lunar New Year

Are you new to the Lunar New Year festival? Each Asian country celebrates this time according to the lunar calendar, each with its unique flair. In China, it’s the Spring Festival; in Indonesia, it’s Imlek; Vietnam celebrates Tết, and Korea has Seollal. It’s more than just welcoming a new year; it’s about family gatherings, honoring ancestors, and embracing new beginnings with hope. Picture the vibrant traditions: dragon dances, red envelopes (hóngbāo) brimming with money for luck and prosperity—it’s a festival of heartfelt traditions.

Whipping Up an International Feast

Our prep began at the crack of dawn at KI housing. The kitchen buzzed with the sounds of a culinary orchestra tuning up for our Lunar New Year’s international lunch. We were all in sync, the air fragrant with spices and the sound of chopping setting the rhythm. The vibrant colors of the Yee Sang came to life on the table, heightening our anticipation. The laughter, the occasional clash of pots and pans—it was all part of the magic.

We brought our classmates into the heart of Lunar New Year traditions, teaching them to prepare and fill dumpling wrappers. There might have been some initial fumbles, but soon they were all in, twirling to traditional Chinese New Year music as they crafted dumplings. Each dish, made with love and care, wasn’t just food; it was a celebration of our intertwined cultures, a rich tapestry of traditions coming alive in our kitchen. We weren’t just cooking; we were creating stories, blending traditions, and making memories.

Preparation of the international lunch (Photo credits: Shweta Prasad Ghaisas)
Preparing dumplings with the whole class (Photo credits: Martin So)

Feast Time!

As the afternoon sun peeked in, our friends arrived, each bringing a piece of their home. Our curated menu showcased traditional dishes from various countries that honor the Lunar New Year, each telling its own story. We kicked off with the Yee Sang or Prosperity Toss, a vibrant communal salad that we all tossed together, making wishes for the year ahead. Then came the dumplings we’d made, a Lunar New Year staple symbolizing wealth in China.

The feast unfolded with more than just Yee Sang and dumplings; there were onion cakes, curry, fried rice, chicken rice paper rolls, and so much more. Sharing these dishes, we also shared stories and dreams for the future. It was a beautiful reminder that no matter where in the world we might be, the heart of the Lunar New Year remains constant—a time for family, for honoring our past, and for stepping into the future with optimism.

Enjoying the feast (Photo credits: Nan Jiang)
Dumplings (Photo credits: Martin So)
Yee Sang (Photo credits)

Dance Like Everyone’s Watching!  

A major Lunar New Year tradition is to revel in life and fun with family—which is why a post-lunch dance competition was a must! Each of us showcased a traditional song from our homeland and led the class in a dance. The energy was electric as we moved from Ukraine’s folk tunes to classic Chinese New Year songs, even throwing in a round of the “Baby Shark” dance for good measure.

being a dancing queen (Photo credits: Sherlyn Lai)

Looking Forward

This international lunch opened our eyes to the vast array of Lunar New Year traditions. It was an eye-opening experience that we’re eager to turn into an annual tradition, bringing in new dishes and stories from across the globe each time.

As we embark on this new year, let’s hold onto the spirit of renewal, the happiness that comes from sharing, and the hope for prosperity and joy for everyone, everywhere. Happy Lunar New Year, my friends! Let’s make this year unforgettable. What traditions do you cherish during this festive time? Share them in the comments below and let’s start a conversation!

Special thanks

Last but not least, A heartfelt commendation is due to my friends—Ji Wei, Sherlyn, Jason, Nan Jiang, and Ning Gai—for their incredible effort and dedication in orchestrating such a magnificent celebration. Their tireless work behind the scenes was the cornerstone of our international lunch, weaving together the myriad threads of our diverse heritages into a beautiful tapestry of cultural celebration. It was their enthusiasm and attention to detail that transformed our gathering from a simple meal into a vibrant festival of togetherness and cultural exchange. The success of this event is a testament to their spirit of collaboration and their commitment to creating a space where every tradition could be shared and honored.

Martin - Health Informatics

Martin - Health Informatics

I am Martin, 27, currently studying Health Informatics at Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University. I’m passionate about using data science to improve human well-being. Discovering this programme was a pivotal moment, and I've found it to be one of my best decisions. The programme is enriching my network and perspectives by hosting talks with alumni, government representatives, and startups. An interesting fact about me is that I once aspired to be a curator and artist specializing in Chinese art.


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