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Celebrating Luna New Year at the Chaplaincy


On Wednesday 14 February, students feasted on a very special meal cooked in honour of Luna New Year at the University Chaplaincy.

The Chaplaincy regularly hosts global lunches, and other one-off special events, in which students are invited to share food, customs, and traditions from their cultures with their peers and the wider University community.

For the Luna New Year lunch, Swee Yee Shea (also known as Darren Shea), a PhD Law student from Malaysia, served up a mouth-watering traditional vegetarian feast to over 80 students, consisting of curry, fried egg, beans, baby tomatoes and scrambled egg, Chinese leaf and mushroom, with Lon Han 'dragon's eye' winter melon for dessert.  

close up of a plate of Chinese food, served at the Chaplaincy for Chinese New Year










Darren explains his motivation for hosting this event and the significance of Luna New Year to him and his community: “Since Lunar New Year is considered as one of the biggest and most important festival events of the year for the Chinese community and across the countries in Asia, I wish to extend this joyful and happy moment to my peers so that we all can celebrate this event together, despite all of us may come from different backgrounds, cultures and countries.“ 

The Luna New Year (also known as Chinese New Year, and the Spring Festival) is celebrated in countries across Asia and among communities abroad. It began this year, on Saturday 10 February 2024, with the arrival of the new moon. Traditionally this date is marked with a festival of lanterns, homes are decorated, and food is shared. Celebrations typically last around 15-16 days.  Student handing out fortune cookies at the Chinese New Year lunch at the Chaplaincy

Darren says: “It is about bringing all the family members together and be reunited. This is because normally everyone is busy with their own works and commitments and therefore unable to be around with the families all the time. However, during the Lunar New Year, all the family members will put aside their works, and celebrate this festival with all the family members. 

“During the Lunar New Year, we all will have the reunion dinner together, parents will cook a vast variety of specialities, cuisines for the children and family members, and we also will have the chance to eat a lot of Lunar New Year cookies and biscuits that you do not normally have the chance to eat.

“Most importantly, during the Lunar New Year, the parents or elderly will give the red packets to their children or young generations, symbolising a blessing from the elderly to the youngsters.”  

In the Chinese zodiac system, an animal is assigned to each year in a repeating 12 year cycle, each creature is believed to bring different traits. 2024 is the year of the wood dragon, a fire element believed to symbolise energy, creativity and transformation. To all those born in the year of the dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) congratulations, 2024 is set to be your year! 

"Because this is the year of the dragon, we hope that it's going to be a prosperous year for everyone, and I hope that we have more international students coming to join us at the University and enjoying our student experience."  

Looking to the future, Darren hopes that the Luna New Year Lunch will become an annual tradition for the University.  After completing his PhD, Darren intends to pursue an academic career in higher education. He says: “I hope I can become an aspiration to the young generation.” 

close up of a red paper lantern hanging in the chaplaincy in celebration of Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Dragon to the whole University community, may the coming months be filled with good fortune!  

Share your special day 

If there is a special day that you would like to celebrate with the university community, let the Chaplaincy know by completing this form.  

For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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