Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Celebrating the Lunar New Year
February 6, 2019

This week the Chinese students and those of Chinese descent are letting everyone in on the celebration. Tuesday was officially the first day of the year of the Pig, starting the traditional Spring Festival in China. To observe the event, the students are hosting four days of food tasting and providing glimpses into Chinese life for fellow students, faculty, and staff.

According Xiaohui (Cici) Zhao ’19 (Dalian, China), who heads the group hosting the Chinese Culture Week sessions, the Spring Festival, commonly referred to as the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, is the major celebration in China. Running from Feb. 5 through the 15th, people take will take off from work and spend it with family members. “It is the most important event in China,” she said.

But the year of the Pig aspect, which captures people’s imagination abroad, doesn’t carry the same weight, she explained. “Those people born in that year will celebrate it more, but most people don’t get that excited about it.”

The Chinese zodiac is represented by 12 animals, with each animal representing a year. That means people who were born under that zodiac symbol are the only ones celebrating – in a way. Chinese lore says the zodiac year is actually a hurdle a person must overcome. They must protect themselves from evil spirits and bad fortune. One way to ward off the spirits is to wear something red every day.

While those superstitions aren’t taken seriously any longer, Zhao explained, you will find some cautious individuals not taking any chances. They are usually the ones wearing red socks, she said.

Another part of Chinese lore is the person born under that zodiac symbol takes on the characteristics of that animal, she said. According to the Chinese New Year website, people born in the year of the Pig “think logically and are able to fix whatever problem they’re in. They aren’t good communicators, but they’re kind and able to provide for the family. Most of them are wealthy. Their only obvious fault is that they lose their temper easily.”

The birth years for people under the Pig zodiac symbol are 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1995, 2007, and 2019.

The events being hosted by the students include:

  • Monday – Tasting traditional Chinese tea and tea snacks, learning calligraphy, and speaker Amina Shafeek-Horton ’20 (Charlotte, N.C.) on Monday.
  • Tuesday – Making Chinese dumplings.
  • Wednesday – Chinese spicy food and snack contest.
  • Thursday – Virtual reality panorama of Chinese royal architecture, paper cutting lessons, traditional dancing by Hanmu Zhang ’20 (Beijing), favorite foods from Beijing, and sessions about Confucianism and the Beijing Opera

On Thursday, Feb. 14, the Global Studies Institute and the Confucius Classroom will host performers from the Zhejiang University of Technology for an evening of Chinese traditional instrumental and vocal music, martial arts, and dance. The group’s appearance is sponsored by the Confucius Institute of Valparaiso University. The performance will be from 7-8 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the Legion Memorial building.

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