Maria Alejandra Rey
The multicultural club celebrated the arrival of the Chinese New Year with a presentation led by Julie Pan Chen, an international scholar from China, and also accompanied by a couple of international Chinese students. Pan Chen took the opportunity to educate a group of students from different nationalities on the Chinese traditions and celebrations as well as the cultural importance of the day.
The most important holiday in Asia, at least for countries who are regulated by the lunar calendar, welcomed the year of the dog according to the Chinese zodiac and with it all the celebrations and customs that come with it, from the word play used on the couplets and the traditional meals prepared in family as a bonding activity. “It’s difficult to find everything you need to celebrate authentically when you are living in a different country,” said Pan Chen, who took the opportunity not only to celebrate with other students from china but also with American students who take her class and were interested on seeing first hand the Chinese customs.
In Chinese culture tradition is really important and following the new year’s celebration is part of the millenary history of the country, and while it has developed throughout the years the bases for these customs are still in place and as important as ever, from the protection against a mythical beast called Nian to the importance of family unity. Nian, who in Chinese mythology was believed to eat villagers, was scared away by loud noises and the color red, following the legend after the monster was captured.
The traditions endure in order to assure good fortune in the new year, “for a few years in the city we were forbidden to light firecrackers, but people started to complain because they felt something was lacking during the celebrations.” said Pan Chen.
The new year celebration takes place over two weeks in China and people get a week off work and school in order to celebrate properly.