I write this message at a time of new beginnings. We are one month into a new calendar year, a new semester is barely underway, and the new moon, on February 1, marks the beginning of a new lunar new year—the year of the tiger. The tiger is the third in the cycle of 12 animals used to mark years in many Asian cultures.
During this holiday, people often return to their family homes to eat meals full of special dishes that symbolize wealth, fecundity and long life, visit with friends and relatives, and hand out red envelopes of lucky money to children. Traditionally, the lunar new year was a time to pay off debts, clean house, and clear away evil spirits with boisterous fireworks. The holiday lasts until the full moon, 15 days after the new moon.
I encourage you all to look for ways you can take part in these celebrations, especially on campus and in the community. UW–Madison is home to many students, faculty, and staff of Asian descent, with a vibrant local community as well. In fact, more than half of the university’s international students join us from countries in Asia. Their presence on campus offers wonderful opportunities for cultural exchange and forming bonds that for many—last a lifetime.
I wish you all a happy new year, a wonderful beginning to the new semester, and a very happy lunar new year! I hope you all find success and happiness in the days ahead.