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Students celebrate Chinese Spring Festival

By Laura Traister
On February 2, 2014

  • Jacob McClure

The Super Bowl may have been on the forefront of many students' minds this weekend, but for some, the weekend was devoted to the celebration of the Chinese Spring Festival.
Also known as the Chinese New Year, this festival is a major traditional holiday.
It is often compared to Christmas in the United States in terms of cultural importance.
A large crowd of students gathered on Feb. 1 at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry to celebrate with songs, dances, games, and food.  
Co-sponsors of the event were the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, the Embassy of People's Republic of China in the United States, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
In attendance were mostly Chinese students, although many American students and other international students came as well.
Students were invited to arrive early to learn how to make dumplings, a traditional dish for the Spring Festival.
The program took place upstairs at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry, where seats quickly filled with spectators.
Several Chinese students sang musical selections, while others performed dances.
Two emcees directed the show and held drawings and games between performances.
In one game, non-Chinese students were invited to repeat a phrase in different Chinese dialects, and the audience gauged their success with applause.
This game showed the diversity that exists within the Chinese language and culture.
Throughout the building, red dominated the decorations: paper lanterns, balloons and garlands.
Li Xinran, a Chinese student finishing her second at ETSU, described the traditional meaning of this color as "very enthusiastic, passionate and lucky."
2014 is the year of the horse.
The Chinese zodiac repeats on a 12-year cycle, with one animal associated with each year.
As with Christmas, celebrations for the Spring Festival start in earnest on the eve of the holiday.
This day is traditionally a time for family reunions and the preparation of festive food.
Family is at the heart of the holiday.
"The first day of the new year we go by some of our relatives and say hello to them, say best wishes to them," Li said.
Another traditional practice is the giving of red envelopes filled with money.
According to Li, these gifts are believed to bring good luck and promote long life.
Despite being away from their families on this holiday, some for the second or third year in a row, the Chinese students chose to celebrate their culture at ETSU.
Of the New Year, Li said, "For us it is really important ... it means a lot to us ... it means family reunion and although we cannot go home we still can get together and share food."
Of the event's friendly atmosphere, she simply said, "It's really cozy here."
To all of our Chinese friends and their families, Happy New Year.

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