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Chinese New Year celebrations spark off

Anna Ursu / Lantern photographer

Blowing an air horn and ringing cowbells outside of Drackett Tower was how Monica Qian, a first-year in business administration, brought in the Chinese New Year.

“We didn’t have firecrackers or fireworks, so we just made a little noise,” Qian said.

Fireworks are traditionally used to ward off spirits of the year before and begin the 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Jan. 23 marked the beginning of 2012, the year of the dragon, on the Chinese calendar.

Though some Chinese students are far from home, student organizations and residence halls are hosting events to help students of all ethnicities bring in the New Year.

“It’s just a window into different cultures to learn more about them and celebrate their holidays,” said Karen Mancl, professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering and adviser to the student group Chinese Culture Connection.

Dumplings, dragon dances and traditional music are just a few of the things that will be featured in the lobby of Hagerty Hall at a walk-through Chinese New Year celebration sponsored by Chinese Culture Connection Feb. 6.

The number of Chinese students at Ohio State make the Chinese New Year an important holiday to celebrate on campus, Mancl said.

“It’s like the biggest holiday in China,” she said. “So it’s an extremely important event in Chinese culture.”

OSU enrolled 1,758 students whose nationality is Chinese in Autumn Quarter, said Marco Chavez, interim senior assistant director for international recruitment.

Mancl compared the Chinese New Year to the American Thanksgiving. Both holidays consider family to be an important part of the celebration, she said.

“Most Chinese try to return home for the New Year,” Mancl said. “If you’re far away from your family, it can be just like … an American not being able to go home for Thanksgiving.”

Qian spent most of her childhood in Michigan with her family but also lived in Shanghai, China, for four years.

She said her family celebrated the New Year while living in Michigan, but she said it didn’t compare to Shanghai.

“When I lived in China, it was a whole different level,” Qian said. “There (are) fireworks going off until midnight pretty much every night for two weeks.”

This year marks the first time Qian has been away from her family during the New Year celebrations.

Though her parents now live in Ohio, “it’s really different,” she said.

“It didn’t really feel like (the Chinese New Year) because there’s no fireworks, no big family dinner, which is usually the tradition,” Qian said.

Even without her family, Qian has been celebrating the New Year in traditional ways.

The day before the beginning of the New Year celebration, Qian said she cleaned up around her dorm room to get rid of all of the dirt from the past.

“It’s just tradition,” she said.

Qian has even involved her roommates in some of the celebrations, taking them along with her to eat long noodles, a food that signifies long life, she said.

Food, along with family, is central to the celebration.

Noodles for longevity, dumplings and oranges for good luck and traditional sticky rice are all important parts of the celebration, Qian said.

Keyue “Coco” Zhang, a first-year in psychology, said some of the food here doesn’t compare to the traditional food in China.

Zhang attended the Chinese New Year celebration in Drackett Tower Sunday and said the orange chicken served is “not our traditional food.”

“It’s really not that popular in China,” Zhang said, prompting a giggle from her American roommate.

Zhang, whose family lives in China, said some aspects of the New Year celebration in China are similar to the American New Year celebration.

People set off fireworks at midnight and watch a program on TV featuring singers and dancers, similar to New Year’s Eve programs in the U.S., she said.

Though the Chinese Culture Connection is open to all students, Mancl said campus celebrations are especially important for Chinese students who are far from home.

“By having these celebrations here on campus, it’s a way for (Chinese students) to celebrate with their new family,” Mancl said. “Their Ohio State family.”


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