Chinese and Taiwanese students at Seton Hall shared how they celebrated the Spring Festival for the Chinese New Year on Feb. 5.
Ni Hsin Yang, a junior nursing major, said she originally hails from Taiwan and usually goes to her grandparents’ house along with other family members.
“We all sit at a round table to have dinner because it means reunion,” Ni Hsin said. “When I was a child, my dad and my cousins played with fireworks. People would wear clothes in red color because it means good fortune. We go shopping a lot because new things mean that good things will come, and bad old things will go away.”
Zhijie Yang, a senior finance major, said that in China they start preparing for the New Year a month in advance.
“On the eve of the New Year, we will post couplets and the word ‘luck’ on our doorsteps and hang red lanterns,” Zhijie said. “Starting from 5 p.m., the whole family will have the New Year’s Eve dinner together. The elders in the family will give red packets to the children. The lucky money represents the best wishes for the children in the New Year.”
A new year also involves a variety of scrumptious dishes. Ni Hsin explained that certain foods are eaten for particular purposes.
“We eat rice cake to celebrate one year older,” Ni Hsin shared. “We eat apples to wish people’s safety in the New Year, pineapple for good business to make a lot of money, and dumplings to welcome the new year. For the special vegetables, we eat leek or chives so the elderly can live longer.
Sometimes, we will have hotpot to represent a reunion.”
Zhijie said that because she has already started school in the New Year, she spent time with her friends here, making dumplings and recording the process. She also cited fish, chicken, pork, duck, and five grains as essential New Year’s foods, saying the dinner should be very rich.
Zhanli Peng, a senior finance major, talked about traditional symbolic clothing. “If you were born in the Year of the Pig, you would be required to wear red clothes in the first day of the year,” Peng explained. “It’s better not to wear white clothes in the first day of the year because it’s unlucky.”
As it is the ‘Year of the Pig,” Ni Hsin also gave some background about the zodiac signs. “Every animal year, it would have compatible animals and less compatible animals,” she said. “For example, in the pig year, the compatible animals are tiger, rabbit, and dog. So for the people of these zodiac animals, everything will be going well for them in New Year. However, the less compatible animals are snake and monkey. These people need to be alert this New Year.”
Zhijie added that the Spring Festival is the most important festival in China, because on this day, wherever a person is, they will go back to their hometown to reunite with their family and send best wishes to each other.
“Although I can’t go home,” Zhijie said. “I will send my best wishes to my family.”
Kristel Domingo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.