Students celebrate Chinese New Year


Stephen Zhao

Junior Stephen Zhao performs the Lion Dance with his team as many people at the event gather to watch. “Performing gives me a rush like no other,” Zhao said. “There are so many variables and so many new things that we do each year for the Lion Dance. We work our best to make it a great performance so that people will remember the Chinese culture.”

Unlike the American New Year which is celebrated on the first day of January, the Chinese community will celebrate their New Year Feb. 16. That day will mark the beginning of a fresh year, represented with the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog. A New Year calls for upscale parties, special traditions and great food.

“There are a lot of events that celebrate Chinese New Year including many from American-run places,” junior Stephen Zhao said. “Some examples would be the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Magic House and multiple Chinese restaurants.”

The major difference between Chinese New Year and the American New Year is the date of the holiday and the purpose.

“America’s New Year occurs when the solar calendar ends while Chinese New Year occurs when the lunar calendar ends,” Zhao said. “Chinese New Year’s acts as another important date to show respect to adults in my family along with my ancestors.”

The special part of Chinese New Year’s celebrations is the cultural performances. Kung Fu, opera, and plays are many of these performances, but the best one, Zhao says, is the one he performs: the Lion dance.

“In Lion dance, one person is the head of the lion in which they put a large and handcrafted lion head on the person’s head and another person leans over behind the head of the lion to act as the body and the tail. During these performances, the Lions do stunts and interact with the audience,” Zhao said. “Also, we eat annual foods like Tang Yuan, dumplings, steamed duck and many other foods.”

Comparable to Thanksgiving in America, Chinese New Year is another way for families to enjoy the holiday together, but there is one difference between the two.

“We eat delicious Chinese food like hot pot (Chinese tradition of boiling raw food) and dumplings and if there is a church community event, then our family will attend it,” junior Sianna Xu said. “Also, the special thing about Chinese New Year is that we receive money in red envelopes, a symbol of good luck.”

Although there is a plethora of food, Xu wants people to know that food is special, but that is not the only thing that is important.

“The food is a great part of Chinese New Year,” Xu said. “But, it’s more than just noodles and food. It’s really family oriented and it’s about coming together as a family to welcome a new year.”

Different families have different traditions for celebrating Chinese New Year. For Zhao’s family, they make sure to create the family’s favorite foods.

A tradition my family does specifically is making a lot of foods that we would not commonly eat on a daily basis,” Zhao said. “For example, eating steamed chicken or Tang Yuan (sweet rice balls filled with black sesame), which both are really good.”

For Xu’s family, she makes sure to wish her family that cannot gather with her in America a happy new year.

“Chinese New Year is the beginning of the new year for us and it’s more about culture and roots,” Xu said. “So it is important to wish my relatives a happy new year. Although they aren’t physically with us, I can call them internationally and wish them well.”

Chinese New year is only one of many holidays the Chinese celebrate.

“I want [people] to know that there are a lot more dances and traditions that Chinese people celebrate during Chinese New Year,” Zhao said. “There are many other holidays that we celebrate to further show our interesting history. Chinese New Year should be celebrated more by people because it further shows Chinese culture.”