Lorain County Community College students and faculty were treated to a Chinese New Year celebration on Feb. 7. This free of charge event was hosted by the Office of International Students and was held at College Center commons. Attendees enjoyed a variety of entertainment, food, and crafts associated with the Chinese New Year holiday.
Chinese New Year got its origin from an ancient myth involving a beast named Nian, according to Professor Nie Yi. To protect settlements from Nian, villagers would put out food, hang red lanterns, and light firecrackers. These traditions remain part of the yearly New Year celebrations. Yi explained that this is the year of the horse which represents popularity, cheerfulness, and skillfulness for those born within the year.
The festival kicked off with a presentation on the history and traditions of the holiday with students sharing on different topics. Students talked about the foods, decorations, activities, and the celebrations associated with the holiday. “Red is the lucky color in China [and] during the Spring Festival everyone wears red clothing,” said LCCC student Guoxi. She then talked about fish and chicken, the main foods enjoyed during the family reunion dinner. This dinner, usually celebrated on the Eve of Chinese New Year, brings families together to reflect on the past year. Student Anna Tang said, “People get together and talk about their achievements from the year and talk about the New Year.” Anna explained that families participate in gift exchanges and give money filled envelopes to the young children. It is for this reason that, according to Nie Yi, “The young kids feel especially happy on the New Year.”
Student Ashley Alexander talked about the popular dragon dances saying that, “Each dragon is different depending on it’s use” and that “The lighter dragons are used for acrobatics.” The end of the fifteen day long Chinese New Year is marked by the Lantern Festival on the fifteenth day. Alexander explained to the audience that, “Originally, only emperors and lords were allowed to have such highly decorated lanterns.” Now, however, decorating red lanterns and labeling them with riddles is common among many during the holiday.
Festival attendees were treated to a selection of Chinese foods including rice and rice balls, dumplings, green tea, and Chinese candies. It was explained that rice balls are significant in Chinese culture because they symbolize family togetherness and the family’s hope for good luck in the New Year. Music was in the air as student Gucheng played his violin and videos of traditional Chinese dances were shown on the wall. Attendees also had the opportunity to create a fan, lantern, or practice Chinese calligraphy at the craft table.
According to The Office of International Students, there are currently thirty-nine Chinese students studying at LCCC with many choosing to continue on after LCCC at surrounding universities. Events such as this allow foreign students to stay connected with their country’s traditions while sharing their culture and heritage with fellow students of all ethnicities.