International and American students alike celebrated the upcoming Chinese New Year at Troy University on Friday night as part of a sold-out crowd in the Trojan Center Ballrooms.
The Chinese New Year, which began on Jan. 28, ushered in the Year of the Rooster for those born in the years 2005, 1993, 1981 and 1969, and specifically the Fire Rooster for 2017.
The holiday originated from the lunar-solar Chinese calendar and was meant to honor household and heavenly deities and ancestors. When China adopted the Western calendar in 1912, the celebration began to be called the Spring Festival.
“(The Chinese New Year) is more family-oriented and unique,” Huimei Qi, a senior psychology major from China, said. “It’s all of us gathering together, even people who may not have seen each other for the whole year. This is the most important time in China for the whole year.
“Everybody will stop their work, do fireworks and especially parents, and some uncles, will give the kids pocket money. It’s pretty cool, and we always visit family members.”
The celebration opened with a welcome video that featured students, student organizations, faculty and staff waving flags and saying “Xīnnián kuàilè,” or “Happy New Year,” in Chinese.
The rest of the night featured performances from 20 Chinese students and two faculty members that consisted of a piano duet, a guitar trio, a bamboo flute duo, traditional Chinese dances, Chinese song and modern dance medleys and even a two-man comedy skit.
“I enjoyed the dancing,” Ally Clements, a junior mathematics education major from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said. “I thought it was really pretty and really beautiful. I actually made the comment to someone about how, as Americans, we don’t really have that traditional culture, since our culture is relatively new, so I really enjoyed seeing their traditions. I thought it was going to be more of just a hang out, but it’s more planned out and organized. It’s awesome to see all the different aspects of their culture.”
After the welcome video and the first three acts had performed, a dinner buffet was provided by Golden Crane, a Chinese restaurant in Troy. The dinner included traditional foods such as dumplings, fried and salted beef and slices of New Year cake.
The event was open to students and the public, and many Chinese families from the area attended as well.
“If you’re in China, you won’t go to a ceremony like this, that’s only on TV,” Qi said. “In America, most of the people won’t celebrate the Chinese New Year, so this is the best place to feel the Chinese New Year.”
Chinese students account for over 300 of the international student population at TROY and continue to contribute to the growing and changing culture of the city.
“We form a community here, a ‘beacon to the world,’ as our school song says,” Maj. Gen. Walter Givhan, senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development, said in an opening speech. “Let us celebrate together and show the world together the incredible things we can accomplish through understanding, appreciation and learning.
“It’s wonderful to be among you. It’s wonderful to see you working as part of our community. It’s wonderful to learn with you and to learn from you. Thank you for coming to be a part of it.”
The event was hosted by the Chinese Students and Scholars Association and sponsored by Golden Crane, the International Program Office and Student Services.