How Asian Americans Are Redefining the Lunar New Year

This month, Cindy Trinh, 39, a Vietnamese American photographer whose work focuses on community and activism, is celebrating the Lunar New Year with a variety of plans, including a show of her photography work. She is also traveling to San Francisco, where her friend Rochelle Kwan, 29, a cultural organizer with the nonprofit Think!Chinatown, will be a D.J. for a few parties.

Ms. Kwan’s sets, which often include old Canto-pop vinyl records inherited from her family’s collection, are part of a project called Chinatown Records, which hosts intergenerational neighborhood block parties.

Combining her interests in music and work as an oral history educator, Chinatown Records “taps into music as a familiar entry point and bridge for opening up conversation, sparking and creating memories and building connections across generations, starting with my own family,” wrote Ms. Kwan, who was born and raised in the Bay Area by first-generation Hong Kong Americans.

“Lunar New Year is my favorite holiday of the year. It’s a time to see, catch up and hang out with relatives and friends and eat amazing food. It’s all about the food!” Ms. Trinh said. She looked forward to enjoying the Vietnamese Lunar New Year staple bánh chưng, a dish of sticky rice traditionally layered with pork, shallots and mung beans, then wrapped in banana leaves, tied into little gift-box-like packages with twine and steamed on a wood fire.

Because bánh chưng is a labor-intensive dish, it is generally reserved for special occasions like the Lunar New Year. The dish is typically placed on family altars to honor ancestors.

Diep Tran, 50, a chef in Los Angeles who immigrated to Southern California with her family as Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, recalled helping her aunts assemble bánh chưng as a child.