Spring into the Chinese New Year

Chinese Student and Scholar Association hosted Spring Festival Gala at Goldstein Auditorium to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

As the Lunar New Year, a massive New Year celebration in China and most Asian countries that comes this month, the Chinese community at Syracuse University celebrated the festival together on February 13 at Goldenstein Auditorium in Schine Student Center.

The auditorium opened its front door at 6 p.m. Despite the fact the outside temperature was below 4°F, the hall was full of Chinese students waiting in the line. Two girls dressed in red cheongsam greeting people at the entrance. Walls were decorated with big red Chinese “Fu” characters, meaning “fortune” and “good luck.” 20 round tables were placed in the center of the auditorium covered with red tablecloths, 40 trays of Chinese dishes put aside, and more than 100 homemade little cakes prepared.

“Xin Nian Kuai Le,” meaning “Happy New Year” in Mandarin.

The Spring Festival Gala, the biggest annual event hosted by Chinese Student and Scholar Association (CSSA), commemorates the traditional Chinese Spring Festival every year. With more than 300 tickets sold, this event brings Chinese students, faculty members and Asian families together.

“It’s the most celebrated time in the year,” said Xiaojing Zhao, a public relations junior who served as the emcee for the gala. Like Christmas in the western culture, the Spring Festival means a family reunion for all Chinese people.

2015 is the year of the sheep. It officially starts on February 19, according to the lunar calendar. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Different from astrology, which is divided into 12 months and based on the movements of the earth, sun and moon, the Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 years. The legendary story indicates the Buddha relates each year to an animal and its reputed attributes. It’s widely believed the animal ruling one’s birth year has a profound influence on a person’s personality and lifestyle: children born in the year of sheep are considered kind, loyal and hardworking. 

Every year, it sparks a travel rush in Mainland China as hundreds of students and workers flock home for a seven-day national break with families and friends. Telegraph indicates that it expects citizens to make 2.8 million journeys during the spring travel rush in 2015. People always try their best to stay with their beloved ones.

“My girlfriend spent eight hours on the Greyhound from Philadelphia just to celebrate the festival with me,” Long Zeng, a chemistry and economics senior and Vice President of CSSA, said. He embraced her when she showed up at Goldstein Auditorium.

iSchool alumnus, Guoliang Fu, drove six hours from Boston where the road was buried by the 12-inch snow. Despite the fact all flights were cancelled, he said he really expected to attend the festival gala with his girlfriend and friends at Syracuse. “It’s a time we all should stay together,” Fu said.

At least five tables were reserved for local Chinese American families. Zhegang Chen, a 62-year-old man, said he flew for 20 hours from Shanghai to Syracuse to visit his son who settled in the United States. “I haven’t seen my grandchildren for two years. I really missed them,” Chen said.

The dinner will last for an hour until the show starts. All guests at Spring Festival Gala were offered dishes and drinks. People chatted with friends, practiced calligraphy and decorated wall with red antithetical couplets.

At 7 p.m., with explosive burst of applause, the show started. Four emcees welcomed guests in both English and Mandarin. Two student-made videos were shown to demonstrate the daily Chinese student lives in Syracuse. After that, it came two Peking Opera performance and an erhu show, a Chinese musical instrument, by Cao Bao An Art and Cultural Center in New York City.

Besides traditional performances, students also showed their talents in hip-hop music, piano performance, poetry recitation and song performance. Xinyi Gong, an applied mathematics senior and Chuan Yang, a management sophomore brought a comprehensive dance combination including elements of hip-hop, tap dance and jazz. A group of female rock and roll fans gave a punk music show “Lady Punk,” led by Jiayu Zuo, a computer science senior. And Lanni Yu, an art and science freshman, performed Kesha’s “Die Young.”

In addition, amongst the performance, the student organization also added gaming elements to the show. The emcees invited the guest to the stage to charades and musical chairs.

The gala was pushed to the climax as student leaders broadcast New Year wishes from Chinese Embassy in New York via video. In the warm applause, the ambassador made a slight bow with both hands clasped in front and said “Happy Chinese New Year.” The show ended in a beautiful piano performance at 9 p.m. Families and friends wished each other hopes and blessings before leaving the auditorium.

Let’s wish each other “Xin Nian Kuai Le”, meaning “Happy New Year” in Mandarin.

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