Three Professors Reminisce about Lunar New Year in China

February 5 @ 5:41 pm
By Communications Office

Chinese New Year, which many of our students, faculty, and administrators will be celebrating, begins today and runs until February 19. To mark the occasion, three faculty members from China offer reminiscences and greetings.

Professor Qin Gao (bio): Growing up in northern China, my family always gathered together to do two things to celebrate lunar new year: a thorough cleaning of the house, which symbolizes getting rid of any bad luck from the previous year, and preparation of lots of food and new clothes (mainly for the children). The latter symbolizes welcoming the new year with abundance, a fresh start, and renewed energy. I wish all who celebrate joy, luck, and prosperity in the new year! 

Assistant Professor Jinyu Liu (bio): For many Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese, Lunar New Year is a time to gather together and enjoy the warmth of family bonds. In my hometown, the New Year celebration is symbolized by

  • dumplings
  • parties
  • fireworks
  • greetings from family members, relatives, and friends
  • decorations consisting of couplets expressing thoughts about the beauty of nature and wishes for the future
  • red packets containing lucky money for children.

Since I moved to the United States, this holiday is when my homesickness reaches its peak. I always make dumplings at this time to keep alive the warm memories of times spent with my family in China and to maintain my connection with the culture in which I grew up.

Professor Ada Chan Yuk-Sim Mui (bio): Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year—more commonly known in China as the Spring Festival—has become one of the world’s most celebrated cultural festivals. Historically, of course, it has been celebrated not only in China but also throughout most East Asian and Southeast Asian countries: Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Mauritius, and the Philippines. Nowadays it is also celebrated in Chinatowns around the world: especially those in major cities such as New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney. Today people the world over are familiar with many of the holiday’s festive traditions, such as lion dances, dragon dance parades, and fireworks. For Chinese people, however, the Lunar New Year is an important time for families to come together. Whether they live in China or other parts of the world, Chinese people yearn to return to their hometowns to spend time with their families, regardless of the number of miles or how arduous the journey.

Personally, I still feel homesick during the Chinese New Year time, even though it has been 35 years since I left my hometown of Hong Kong. I miss my extended family members in Hong Kong and China, and I also feel sentimental about all the trappings—Chinese New Year decorations, music, games, the tradition of handing out red envelopes with gifts of money to the younger generation—as well as the ritual of cooking special dishes together with family and friends.

Although Spring Festival is a very family-oriented holiday, it is common for those of Asian heritage to spend some time with friends making and feasting on special dishes that remind us of home: rice cakes, longevity noodles, sweet rice balls, and fish.

Whether you celebrate or not, I wish rich blessings upon you, your family and friends and hope you have the opportunity to join in some of our special celebrations and sample the foods of the season. 恭祝健康,幸福,新年快乐。