SU celebrates Lunar New Year

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association marked the start of the Year of the Horse with performances in its annual gala.

Syracuse students, faculty, staff and community members ushered in the Year of the Horse with food, song and dance.

The Chinese Students and Scholars Association welcomed the Lunar New Year on Friday with its annual Spring Festival Gala. The gala is one of CSSA’s biggest events of the year and sold over 300 tickets. The event brings the University and the larger Syracuse community together through the shared celebration.

Photo: Manmeet Sahni
The hosts of the Lunar New Year Festival perform "Sing a Song For You" as they take a bow along with the rest of the event's performers on stage.

“The goal of the event is to celebrate the New Year with the community and highlight the multiculturalism at SU,” said Chengming Guo, president of CSSA. 

Lunar New Year follows the lunar calendar and is celebrated by several East Asian countries. The lunar calendar is based on the phases of the moon. This is different from the Gregorian calendar, a solar calendar system that is based on the earth’s position in relation to its rotation around the sun.

Though several countries have adopted the Gregorian calendar—including China, Korea and Japan—Lunar New Year remains a recognized holiday. Celebrations span over 15 days and traditions differ between cultures.

Guests were given a keychain party-favor upon entering Goldstein Auditorium and accompanied to their table by CSSA members. Music played as everyone made their way through the buffet line and mingled with friends and colleagues.

Chancellor Kent Syverud, his wife and professor of practice, Dr. Ruth Chen, and their sons were sitting at a reserved table in front of the stage. Syverud happily talked to students and posed for pictures in between bites from his dinner.

The lights dimmed promptly at 7:01 p.m., signaling the end of dinner service and the start of the show. The emcees introduced acts in both English and Mandarin throughout the night.

Children from the Central New York Chinese School kicked off the show with a Chinese lantern dance. The CNY Chinese School, located in Manlius, N.Y., is a non-profit organization that serves the community through cultural exchange and services. The school offers classes taught in English and Chinese.

The night also included an act by two members of the New York Chinese Opera Society, who traveled to Syracuse from New York City. The performance combined elements of acting, dance and acrobatics.

The show balanced contemporary and traditional performances. David Her beatboxed to “What a Wonderful World,” the CSSA dance team performed to Psy’s “Gentleman” and Taiming Chen played a piano mash-up combining the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean theme songs. There was also an erhu solo, a two-stringed fiddle and Shuojun Dong sang a Chinese folk song.

The Spring Festival Gala concluded with a song by all of hosts and performers. This final act brought the night full circle.

“One of CSSA’s goals is to build a bridge between international students, American students and others,” Guo said.

CSSA helps Syracuse University students navigate cultural differences by offering a community of support. Guo felt immediately welcomed when she came to campus in Spring 2012.

“CSSA members volunteer to pick up new students from the airport when they get into Syracuse,” she said. “They don’t get paid to do it and it’s not something the University offers. It was a very warm feeling.”

Whether English or Mandarin was your first language, the guests and hosts were brought together through cultural exchange—though only the Mandarin-speakers were able to follow the skit towards the end of the show.

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