RYAN FLYNN — General Assignment Reporter
In celebration of the Year of the Dragon, known universally as the luckiest of the twelve Chinese zodiac years, students and faculty met in Engleman Hall to share a meal and more importantly, to learn a little bit about Chinese culture.
The event, held at noon on Feb. 2, was hosted by the Chinese Student Club, the Multicultural Center, the Asian Student Club and SAFAC.
A few dishes of Lao Sze Chuan cuisine were offered to those in attendance, as well as games and arts and crafts.
Visitors were given calendars displaying the twelve animals and what specific birth years fell under each.
There was also origami, Chinese chess, fan painting and Mahjong, a traditional Chinese game.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said coordinator of multicultural affairs Dian Brown-Albert, who helped plan the occasion. “We get the opportunity to see the campus community interact and learn a little bit about the Chinese culture. The New Year is a time to welcome your friends and family and, you know, have a feast and celebration. So we try to have our own celebration on campus.”
A Chinese New Year celebration has become an annual event at Southern, according to education librarian June Cheng, who also took part in organizing the event.
“We started it probably about eight years, if not 10 years ago,” Cheng said. “We just want the campus, I would say the community, to be aware of the existence of various cultures and traditions.”
Yaqi Luo, secretary of the Chinese Student Club, called Chinese New Year the “most important and significant holiday in China.”
Luo said that in China, nearly every business is closed, much like American Christmas, as families reunite to celebrate. Families throughout the provinces prepare different kinds of traditional food for New Years, such as dumplings in the north and smoked meat in the south.
Parents often give their children money on Chinese New Year’s in red envelopes, according to Luo. Paper cuts, which are cut-outs of characters to be placed in windows, are often created as well during New Year’s.
Luo noted that this year’s zodiac, the dragon, is a very important figure in the Chinese culture.
“People believe [that the Year of the Dragon] tends to be a very lucky year,” Cheng said. “People try to arrange marriage during this year, have babies during this year. Although I wouldn’t say there is a bad year. But compared with other years, dragon is one that people really like the most.”
Members of Marrakech, a program that helps adults with special needs, were also in attendance. According to Marrakech member Kathleen Smith-Bogans, the group found flyers for this Chinese New Year gathering online and decided to join in.
The special needs adults got to have their names written in Chinese as well as indulge in some of the food offered.
According to Brown-Albert, the gathering was an opportunity to get “a little taste of the Chinese culture all around.”
Given the turnout, the groups involved will likely continue to host what has become a yearly event at Southern.
“Chinese New Year, what we call spring festival, is really a major festival in the country,” said Cheng. “And we are getting more and more Chinese students here so the club thinks it would be great to celebrate not only among ourselves but also campus-wide.”