SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A local college community gathered Thursday night to learn about the ways in which different Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Dozens of students attended a Lunar New Year workshop Thursday night at the University of Scranton.

“Me being an International Language Business major, this is something really important to me culturally. I love the Asian culture so, of course I had to be here,” Freshman Valerie Gibau said.

They learned how every Lunar New Year corresponds with an animal from Chinese zodiac, and this year is the year of the water tiger.

“A tiger represents the king of animals in Chinese mythology. So, it’s also very fitting this year because it shows courage and braveness, perseverance. And so it’s good for us to have that spirit to fight COVID-19 and to end the pandemic so we can keep ourselves optimistic,” University of Scranton Director of Asian Studies Dr. Ann Pang-White said.

Faculty from the university’s Asian Studies and World Languages and Cultures departments worked together to put on the event.

“I’m very excited that today we not only have a Taiwanese teacher talking about Chinese Lunar New Year, we have a Japanese teacher talking about how Japan celebrates the new year,” Dr. Pang-White said.

The program featured Asian cuisine, an interactive chopstick competition and hands-on lessons in Chinese calligraphy and Japanese origami.

“I have a very Italian background, so every time I have like a holiday or anything it’s Italian food, Italian culture so it’s definitely really exciting to explore a new culture, especially one that seems so fun as this one,” Sophomore Sam Durante said.

Lunar New Year began on February 1st. It’s one of the most important celebrations of the year among East and Southeast Asian cultures.