By Chichiro Kusazaki
The LIU Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA) held a celebration in the campus chapel, a week after the Chinese New Year, on Feb. 8. Traditional cuisine, dance, and music made Chinese students feel more at home and allowed other students the opportunity to embrace the culture.
Although the exact beginning of the New Year’s celebration in China is unclear, it is estimated that the Chinese New Year history can be traced back thousands of years. One of the most famous legends about the origin of Chinese New Year is that of Nien, which is believed, among Chinese people, as an extremely cruel and ferocious beast that ate people and their crops on New Year’s Eve. The ancient Chinese fought to keep Nien away by pasting red paper couplets on doors, lighting torches and scaring it with firecrackers. Legend has it that Nien fears the color red, the light of fire, and loud noises. Then, early the next morning, they would celebrate their success and hope year after year.
The date of celebration varies from mid-winter to early spring. Chinese months are decided by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. New Year festivities traditionally start on the first day of the month and continue until the 15, when the moon is the brightest. The day this year was Jan. 31.
At the campus celebration, “There were hundreds of students who came to enjoy food and dance and song,” said Xiao Di Wu, a graduate Accounting student. “Chinese New Year is the most important annual event if you were born in China, just like Thanksgiving Day is for Americans. People are supposed to be at home, so this is very important for CSSA to hold the festival for those away from home,” she added.
“I was working on that day, but I ran to show up there on my break. It had a nice atmosphere,” said Zhang Qiqi, a graduate Accounting major, who played piano at the festival. CSSA sponsored a dinner of fish cake, dumplings,
Chinese sushi, and some traditional desserts ordered from a local Chinese restaurant.
“The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important dinner for all Chinese. Usually, this is the family reunion dinner. At the New Year’s Eve dinner, normally fish will be served. Dumplings are the most important dish in northern China—these two dishes signify prosperity. The majority of Chinese will have New Year’s Eve dinner at home instead of at a restaurant.”
It is often difficult to make everyone feel at home. However, Michel Yiyang Hu, a junior Nutrition major, said she had so much fun and she was able to make many friends at the event. She also mentioned that she was one of the performers at the festival. “I began practicing two weeks in advance. It was not a traditional Chinese dance, but Hip Hop, because that’s what I have practiced back home in China. I thought it would be more fun to respect American culture as well as Chinese culture.”
For Trista Yang Lu, graduate Clinical Mental Health Counseling major, who had been taking care of International students as an orientation leader and is now an academic advisor, felt that the club did a great job organizing the event despite her absence.
“This was my very first day [that I didn’t take] care of anything. I had been observing and seeing what was going on during preparation. Overall, everyone did a great job, and I am so proud of the team,” said Yang Lu.
Even though the event was a Chinese celebration, all students were welcomed. “I saw a few students who [were] not Chinese and enjoyed our cultures and foods. We all were so happy about it. CSSA always offers a chance to meet more and more new friends. We welcome students, who have different cultural backgrounds,” Lu added.
The next Chinese New Year is on Feb. 18, 2015, 370 days away. CSSA plans to hold its next festival on the weekend after Chinese New Year’s day.