Gongxi Facai, or Happy Chinese New Year. The year 2012 is the year of the dragon according to the Chinese zodiac and is known to be the luckiest of all the years.
The Chinese Club, along with the Confucius Institute of the University of Utah, the International Student Center and the Department of Languages hosted and sponsored the Chinese New Year celebration held at Center Stage on Jan. 27.
The night’s celebration included a number of both traditional and modern Chinese performances, free food provided by the Chinese Club and a very intense Kung Fu exhibition by a student. President Holland also showed his support and received an impromptu Chinese lesson, which proved not to be his expertise. In addition to the college students and families, young students from the Wasatch Elementary School graced the audience with songs and skits that showed off the conversational Chinese that they have learned over the past few years.
In a video presentation, the Chinese Club explained there was more to Chinese New Year than just one day of celebration. The activities of the night demonstrated and explained many of the Chinese New Year traditions.
Chinese New Year isn’t based on the Gregorian calendar, but rather on the lunar calendar and indicates the beginning of spring. The countries and cultures that also use the lunar calendar include Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, among others and therefore celebrate the Spring Festival. Traditions are practiced over a period of 15 days in celebration of spring.
In the days preceding the celebration, the Chinese enact ancient traditions, such as getting a haircut and buying new clothes and shoes in preparation for the New Year. There is also a lot of cleaning. The belief is that in doing these things, one is cleansing out the disease and bad luck from the previous year, and making room for the good luck of the New Year.
Dumplings, made for the whole family, are thought to bring fortune because of their shape, resembling money. Another Chinese tradition is to use fireworks to send off large beautiful bursts of colors to attract the attention of the Gods in hopes that they would give them blessings of prosperity.
Little red envelopes are filled with money by the elder family members, and given to the small children, but only in even quantities, since it is believed that putting an odd amount of currency in an envelope is bad luck.
The 15th day of the Lunar New Year marks the day of the lantern festival said to have the purpose of worshiping Buddha. People make lanterns and hang them all over China, and some even put riddles inside. If someone has the answer to the riddle, they can go to that person’s house to solve it, where the right answer will warrant a reward, like money or sweets.
For more information about Chinese New Year traditions, visit www.confucius.utah.edu.
By Brielle Valyntin – Staff Writer
Photos by Connor Allen and Nicola Pritchett