Ringing in the New Year

Ana Mihajlovic

Chinese organization shares ethnic traditions

Fred Tan conducts the Chistian Chinese Fellowship choir during a party hosted by Chinese Students and Scholar Association on Saturday afternoon in the Student Center Ballroom. The party was held to celebrate the annual Chinese Spring Festival.

Credit: Beth Rankin

Chinese Student and Scholar Association hosted its annual New Year festival Saturday in the Student Center Ballroom.

Guests had a chance to ring in the new year through celebration of Chinese heritage in song, dance, music, comedy, drama and display. Some of the activities included a fashion show, traditional Chinese dishes, lottery drawings and several violin and cello performances.

“New Year is the most important holiday to the Chinese people,” said CSSA president Jun Ma.

Lina Cheng, CSSA member and neurosciences major, agreed, saying New Year is much like Thanksgiving or Christmas here.

“New Year’s festivities are celebrated as a family affair. This is a time of reunion and thanksgiving,” she said. “It is the oldest and most important holiday in China.”

However, according to Ma, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year and is determined by the lunar or solar calendar.

Hongyu Zhang, a visiting scholar, described the traditional New Year’s Eve activities.

“First, families gather together for a meal. After dinner, families play cards, board games and watch TV programs dedicated to the occasion. At midnight, firecrackers and fireworks are lit to ward off evil spirits,” she said.

Although the customary festivities held on Chinese New Year have been handed down for millennia, they still retain tremendous significance today.

Attending this celebration was especially important to Bei Liu. Liu, originally from Sichuan, China, and working on her dissertation in biomedical science, came to the United States 12 years ago. The rest of her family still lives in China, and she is thankful to be spending this holiday with people she considers her second family.

“There are so many great people here, and it makes me feel closer to home,” Liu said.

Lizhong Hao, CSSA vice president, hopes this event will educate, enrich and entertain the audience. She said all international organizations were invited and everyone was welcome.

Kamil Gierszal, Polish student and physical chemistry major, said he decided to attend the celebration in order to get a better understanding and appreciation for the Chinese culture.

“This is the perfect occasion to meet international students and share experiences,” he said.

CSSA is one of the largest student organizations at the university, with more than 100 members. International Student Adviser Deb Lyons said the CSSA helps incoming Chinese students adapt to the new environment at Kent State by giving them more opportunities to get involved.

“Each student that comes is different and has different needs, but they are very close,” Lyons said. “There is a strong existing population here, so they immediately help new students adjust.”

Liu agreed, stating that there are 56 different ethnic groups in China.

“This diversity among Chinese people is also the reason different parts of China celebrate this holiday differently,” she said.

According to Liu, although celebrations of the Chinese New Year vary, the most important thing to remember is the underlying message of peace and happiness for family members and friends.

Contact International Affairs and non-traditional students reporter Ana Mihajlovic at [email protected].