Brock’s Confucius Institute hosted their annual Chinese New Year Gala at Merritton Community Centre which featured a number of Chinese performances and a variety of rich Chinese cuisine.
The Chinese New Year is also commonly called the Spring Festival and the Lunar New Year. Though it is still technically winter, in mainland China the holiday marks the end of the coldest days. It’s a time when members of the Chinese community welcome spring and its bounty of planting and harvests, which signify new beginnings and fresh starts.
Chinese New Year, unlike the traditional western new year celebrations, occurs across a wide range of dates from January 21 to February 20. In 2019, the official date of the beginning of the new year was Feb. 5 and this marked the year of the pig.
Zodiac signs are an integral part of the Chinese culture and are used to determine a number of things. The signs are often used to determine an individual’s fortune for the year, marriage compatibility with another person, the best times to have a baby and even the best career path. The zodiac cycle repeats every 12 years and as such there are 12 zodiac signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The gala, which took place on Feb. 8, saw the community centre decked out in the classic red and yellow decorations used for the holiday. For four hours total, a number of traditional Chinese male and female dance, songs and instrumental music were performed.
In terms of cuisine, attendees were able to indulge in dishes including steamed fish, a variety of Chinese dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes and balls, fruit and noodles. For dessert, those present were treated to cookies, nian gao (a steamed, gelatinous sweet and sometimes salty cake), rice pudding and a variety of fried dough treats.
The 15-day long celebrations, as always, will end with the Yuan Xiao or Lantern Festival on Feb. 19. The festival is expected to see activities such as the traditional eating of rice balls, traditional lion dances and the signature lighting and releasing of sky lanterns. The Lantern Festival, though beautiful and fun, is primarily designated as a night for family. Emphasis is placed on families reuniting before the Chinese New Year comes to an official end. Students have been encouraged to enjoy the holiday’s shows and performances with family and other loved ones and if possible, enjoy a bowl of yuan xiao (these are usually boiled glutinous rice dumplings with sweet fillings made of syrup, red bean paste or black sesame paste).
Interested students are encouraged to monitor the Confucius Institute page on ExperienceBU for the latest events out of the organization which tend to be free of cost and enable students to learn more about the Chinese culture in all of its facets.