Dancers perform the Jing Hong Dance at the 2015 Chinese Lunar New Year Gala in Baker Hall on Friday, Jan. 30, 2015. The dance is a traditional dance originating from the Tang Dynasty era, between 618-907 AD. (Chris Barry/B&W photo)

Chinese New Year celebration brings culture to campus


Celebrated throughout the world, the Chinese New Year is the longest celebration in the Chinese culture. On Friday, Jan. 30, Lehigh students came together in celebration of the Chinese New Year at the Lunar Gala, sponsored by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association.

The Chinese New Year runs from the Chinese New Year’s Eve through 15 days of the next month, and many traditions occur during this time. A dinner is held on New Year’s Eve where all family members gather for celebration, while red envelopes with money are usually exchanged between one another. Small gifts and food are exchanged between family and friends. This year is the year of the goat, according to the Chinese Zodiac.

Lehigh students for the first time celebrated the Chinese New Year by hosting a play. The play’s goal was to model the real Chinese Spring Festival. Lehigh’s Spring Festival Gala consisted of singing, comedy and dancing, with majority of the play spoken in Mandarin.

David Morency, ’17, became a part of the organization and was one of the many writers honoring the Spring Festival traditions.

“Typically students are off for a month and employees are off for two to three weeks,” Morency said. “When I lived in China, I normally traveled for the Chinese New Year. However, one year I stayed with a friend, where we sat at home and spent time with his family and lit up the fireworks during this very happy time.”

Morency become a part of the organization and was inspired to write and have his own part in the play.

“The play has a lot of jokes and I want to poke differences about America versus China, as well as poke fun at Lehigh students experience versus the China experience,” he said. “The last monologue was about change, about trying to become the best person we can be. Going to college can change who you are, as long as you don’t forget your core values.”

Fengfei Liang, ’16, said she attended the show because she was excited to see Lehigh’s first Chinese New Year celebration.

“Celebrating with family has been a tradition since I was born, but it is nice to come together in Zoellner and celebrate all together because we never had a way to truly celebrate the Spring Festival at Lehigh,” Liang said. “The way we would celebrate before the gala existed was eating together and hanging out with friends.”

Qiwei Wen, ’14, president of the organization, explained more about the history of the Chinese New Year, saying that it is a time when family members connect, share experiences from the past year, and celebrate.

“Usually, people from North China eat dumplings and people from the South eat soup balls (made of rice) for dinner.”

Traditionally, fireworks are part of the Chinese New Year celebration. The fireworks symbolize casting away bad luck and bringing forth good luck. They signify a happy time of the year.

Wen said his favorite memory of the Chinese New Year was watching fireworks every Spring Festival with his family before he came to America.

“I enjoy the Lunar New Year because it takes into account the different cultures that celebrate the holiday,” Sarah Wu, ’15, said. “At home, we gather with extended family and exchange red envelopes with money to the children symbolizing good luck in the New Year.”

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