Debbie Chew (second-year East Asian Studies), the cultural chair of the Association of Chinese Americans, reveals that the Lunar New Year event “promotes a diverse environment so that everyone is aware of the Chinese culture, presence, and values. One of the biggest Chinese values is family. The event brings everyone together to make them feel like they have a family here. It is a community environment. I hope all attendees are happy, get to learn more about Chinese culture, and feel proud of their own culture. I hope to continue having these kinds of cultural festivals around the community.” Her reason to participate in this event resonates with many of the other participants of the event. Since Lunar New Year is such a significant holiday to spend with family, the festival provides a home away from home and a space to celebrate the tradition. One of the participants of the event, Ivanna Kenwood (first-year Neuroscience), was “pleasantly surprised about the cultural activities,” and also shares that since she is not able to celebrate the holiday with her family, she sees the event as an opportunity to do so while being at school.
On Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011, the Lunar New Year Festival held in the Ackerman Grand Ballroom created a phenomenal cultural atmosphere. The purpose was to allow the various Chinese clubs to interact with each other (something they normally do not have a chance to do), as well as to work together to celebrate a very important and special cultural holiday.
At the festival, there were various activities and performances. Participants engaged in various arts and crafts. Professor Chou, who teaches the Chinese civilization course, painted personalized calligraphy of Chinese characters on a scroll, while other participants made their own lanterns with red envelopes, and used felt to make fortune cookie. Furthermore, there was a booth to take photographs with traditional Chinese decorations, as well as traditional Chinese clothes and props. Delicious dim sum and boba were also served. Various live performances featured ACA Lion Dance, Chinese Music Ensemble, the Kung Fu Club, Wu Shu Club, and TAU Choir. Thomas Lu (third-year, Design-Media Arts) from the Kung Fu Club says that Kung Fu is such an integral part to the Chinese culture that to celebrate Chinese New Year means to incorporate Kung Fu. “It is so important to get in touch with it, because Kung Fu is intertwined with Chinese philosophy, medicine, and combat systems,” he explained. Furthermore, each of the five Chinese organizations operated their own booth to promote and spread awareness about the clubs.
The festival was put on by five of the Chinese organizations on campus: the Association of Chinese Americans (ACA), the Chinese Student Association (CSA), the Hong Kong Student Society (HKSS), the Taiwanese American Union (TAU), and the Teo-Chew Association.
Lunar New Year happens every year on the lunar calendar. When translated directly from Chinese, it means “spring festival”. This year, 2011, ushers in the Year of the Rabbit. Typical traditions for celebration include passing out red envelopes for good luck to children and the elderly, wearing red for good luck, and spending time with family. An age-old tradition for Lunar New Year is to visit all family members, and give well wishes for wealth, happiness, and luck in the New Year; this tradition is typically called “Bai Lin”, in literal translation, “pray year”.