SRU to celebrate Chinese New Year with Feb. 12 celebration
Feb. 2, 2017
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -Slippery Rock University will join the worldwide celebration of the Chinese New Year with a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. event Feb. 12 at the Slippery Rock Community Center.
Chinese New Year, a 4,000-year-old tradition that observes the start of the new lunar year, is also known as the "Spring Festival" in modern Mainland China and is celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. This year that was Jan. 28.
2017 is the Year of the Fire Rooster in China. Those born in the year of the Fire Rooster are said to be the epitome of fidelity and punctuality with a strong sense of responsibility. The Fire Rooster also provides a symbolic meaning for chasing away evil spirits.
The holiday is centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. It also serves as a time to reconnect with family and friends, enjoy traditional games, music and food, launch fireworks and take a break from work and responsibility.
"The Chinese New Year is a very important ceremony to honor heaven, earth and ancestors," said Xianfeng Chen, SRU professor of geology. "Family members gather together to visit at this very special time."
Chen, who will be organizing SRU's celebration in conjunction with 13 other Chinese faculty members, said that nearly 30 international students of Chinese origin are enrolled at the University and that recognizing the holiday will have extraordinary significance for them.
"Our University is very supportive of its diverse populations," said Chen. "SRU has funded this ceremony and that is really appreciated by the students and faculty," said Chen.
For students like Mengqi Wang, a junior biology major from Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwest China, the ceremony at SRU will mean enjoying a little taste of home.
"I've attended the celebration every year since I arrived at the University," said Wang, who participates in the events by creating art with Chinese alphabetic characters. "I will help people form characters, print out the words, explain to them what it means and let them print out their own. In China, we put lucky words on the door of our homes.
"When I first arrived in Slippery Rock, I was very homesick. However, because of the other Chinese students and Chinese professors here, I am not anymore."
While the event is targeted toward SRU's Chinese students, Chen said that the Chinese New Year welcomes attendees from throughout the Slippery Rock community.
"Some years, we have had 20 families from the community attend and bring children they adopted from China or other Asian countries," said Chen. "Holding this ceremony is very meaningful for them, and it definitely enriches the diverse culture of the campus."
The free event will include a free Chinese lunch, interactive children's games, traditional performances and songs, and a Chinese calligraphy demonstration.
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