As a fourth-year student from China, I have seen the efforts of many student groups on campus to preserve the traditional East Asian culture over my time at Duke, like this year's Lunar New Year Show by ASA which took place the past weekend. But is it really about LNY? If you check the lunar calendar, it happened at the end of the first lunar month, a time when almost everyone who cares about the lunar new year has done with celebration (finished actually about two weeks ago). So it was quite a surprise to me and many of my friends from China that an LNY show is scheduled at such a late time.
Most of the traditional festivals in East Asian culture are primarily conditioned on the right timing, like Mid-Autumn Festival and Lantern Festival. So this so-called LNY show was using LNY merely as a fancy title, which is appealing but misleading. The link between this event and lunar new year suggested by this particular name made me uncomfortable. LNY means a lot to me as someone growing up in a culture where it is as important, if no more, as Christmas in the West, and I don't think this whole event fits into the impression I have and many others have for Spring Festival and Chinese New Year in general. At least no one wants to celebrate Christmas at the end of January.
I'm open to different interpretation of tradition and culture, but if the deviation is too far, the name is improper to use. It reminds me of all the other twisted interpretations of traditional values and re-creation of cultural practice I have seen before (for instance, Dragon Boat Festival Celebration in early March). They all reflect a common problem of cultural groups: the eagerness of creating something eye-catching and the sense of representing something or somebody. They are having their own games with the real players standing by, perplexed.
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