by Debra Johnson, Published February 06, 2013
YPSILANTI - A week of festivities is planned on Eastern Michigan University's campus to celebrate the Chinese New Year including a paper cutting workshop, a celebratory dinner, Kung Fu lessons, and a cooking class on how to make traditional Chinese dumplings.
The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is also known as the "Spring Festival" or often referred to as the "Lunar New Year." Celebrations begin on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, and end with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. This year, the holiday begins Feb. 10th and it is the year of the snake.
"I am frequently called upon to answer questions about the Chinese language and culture, particularly during the Chinese New Year holiday season and often think of what Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve means to Americans," said Wendy Wang, professor of English as a Second Language, in the department of world languages at Eastern.
"If you put the two U.S. holidays together - you get close to what Chinese New Year means to a quarter of the world's population who celebrate it, not to mention an increasing number of people who embrace it as they learn about Chinese language and culture. It is truly a special time of year for getting together with family and friends."
The following are the events planned on Eastern's campus for the 2013 Chinese New Year:
The Chinese New Year is centuries old and surrounded in myths and traditions. According to legend, it started with a fight against a mythical beast called the Nian who would come and eat livestock, crops, and villagers. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was also thought that Nian was afraid of the color red, so red lanterns and red spring scrolls would be hung on windows and doors to thwart off the beast.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. Some people will buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also tradition to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away ill fortune and make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red colored paper cutouts, and on the Eve of holiday, a feast is shared with family. The night ends with firecrackers.
Early the next morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness to everyone.
The celebration of the Chinese New Year is co-sponsored by MeiHua (American Chinese) Student Association, Department of World Languages, and the CAS Office of International Initiatives. For questions or additional information, contact Wendy Wang at 487-0130 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.