Happy Lunar New Year 2023

January 23, 2023

I wanted to take this moment to say Happy Lunar New Year 2023! Lunar New Year is a time for celebrating life, family, health, wealth, and multi-generational traditions. 

Dr. Nathan Kim, DEI committee member, interviewed four residents across GME on what the holiday means to them and how they celebrate! Enjoy!

Erine Raybon-Rojas, MD

Amy Spence, DO

First generation Chinese-American, born in California.

I really love Chinese New Year! We celebrate every year and it’s similar to a Christmas for Americans/Westerners. It’s a spectacle where family always comes together with a huge feast on the table. My grandmothers and mom and aunts would all be cooking with all that love poured into food, which is fundamental in Asian cultures. As I’ve gotten older, the season has shifted more towards reflections of my extended family. Now as I’m here in Gainesville and I have my own family, I fondly reflect on family gatherings when I was little. Even being older, my parents made conscious efforts towards the Chinese New Year and celebrating as we can. As our family has gotten more spread out across the country and the opportunity to see them in person has decreased, I’ve really appreciated more about this holiday, my family, and what family means. Now that I have my own baby, this is something that I want to pass along to her. I hope that this is something ingrained in her: the importance of family and food. Some of the other fond traditions we have is that all the older generations would have red envelopes for the younger generation. Everyone wears red for the season as it has its important meaning. Growing up we would also burn incense for respect of our ancestors. I have really enjoyed this celebration!

One more specific example I’d like to share, is of my American friends who don’t know Asian culture at all. I love sharing with them the importance of food by coming around a table and eating family style, which can be a different experience to them. For some of my friends, they are used to having single plates with servings already prepared for them. But to sit around a table and to have a whole bunch of food for everyone to taste; this is one thing I find really important!

Donna Lee, MD

Korean-American. Born in Chicago, Illinois. Moved to Seoul, Korea ​​and moved back to the United States during high school.

The Lunar New Year is more enjoyable when having ​more family! Because most of my family is here in the United States, I celebrated it more fondly with my family here than in Korea, especially because my grandparents were in Chicago. In Korea, while we may have time off to spend with friends, here in the United States, my family kept the tradition going as we often spent the holidays more with each other. The New Year is an opportunity to gather as family to share what we want to accomplish for the new start and what we wish for each other.

On the New Year day, we usually have a breakfast tradition as a family. We would wake up and have brunch Korean rice cake soup, called Duk Guk. This rice cake has multiple meanings as food. The process of making rice cake typically involves a very long piece of rice cake that is formed like a long noodle, which represents longevity. When serving the Duk Guk, it is prepared such that each slice looks like the shape of a thin coin to represent wealth. So, by eating the dish, we prepare for the New Year with health and wealth! Also before we eat, we would do the New Year kneeling and bowing ceremony, called Sebae, where the younger generation bows to our elders to grant them well-being, health and longevity. In return, elders would gift money as a good luck symbol and add well wishing remarks for the upcoming year. 

One of the fun things about the New Year as well is the zodiac animals! When the year is aligned with your zodiac animal, we usually say that it’s also the year for that person to be very special! 

To learn more about GME’s diversity and inclusion program, visit ngmcgme.org