Many of us began the new year with the ball drop. But, for some, the new year begins at the start of the lunar new year represented by an animal from the Chinese zodiac, marking the start of the Chinese New Year.
On Feb. 13, Soiland Recreation Center will put on a Chinese celebration in honor of the New Year, the Chinese year of the horse.
The annual celebration was started eight years ago by Debby Chang, a Chinese language professor.
California Lutheran University’s Languages and Cultures Department, Multicultural Programs and Community Leaders Association will host the Chinese year or the horse celebration.
The event will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Soiland Recreation Center and will be open to CLU students and community members.
What was once a small event in the former Student Union Building has grown into a celebration attended by 600-700 people each year.
The new year in Chinese culture focuses on casting away the bad luck of the past year and bringing in the good luck of the new year, which begins on Jan. 31.
Senior Patricia Lee, a Chinese-American student, loves the New Year celebration.
“It’s the one time of year when everyone takes the day off and focuses on family and community. It’s when people are the most generous,” Lee said.
The free event will feature dancers, performers, calligraphy artists, singers and authentic Chinese food.
Vendors will also be present, as will traditional red envelopes, which are typically filled with money and handed out in Chinese tradition for good luck.
Chang said her favorite part of the celebration is the performers. She has reached out to members of the community to provide an authentic and fun experience for students and community members.
One of the newest acts is Ming Ming Jiang, a Beijing-based soprano known around the world.
“Students have the opportunity to enrich their knowledge, understand people and to embrace other cultures ,and I think that makes people live together more harmoniously,” Chang said.
Daniel Lawrence, the Coordinator of Multicultural Programs and International Student Services, also agrees with the importance of students attending cultural events.
“Diversity on campus is needed and is a wonderful thing. It is a joy to see the huge support of the community through their presence and participation in the event,” Lawrence said in an email. “Students will learn about a new culture, experience a new food, have the opportunity to engage in cultural conversation and maybe make a friend.”
Of course, there are always other benefits, as well.
“Oh yeah… It’s the only time I can get real Chinese food,” Lee said.
Published Feb. 12, 2014