Students in Upper and Lower School celebrated the start of the Chinese New Year this past week.
- On Feb 6th, 2016, Mrs. Rue, who teaches Mandarin Chinese in the Upper School, and her husband invited a group of Chinese and American students to their home to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Students made dumplings and ate together a popular Chinese dish called “hot pot”.
“It was nice to have a chance to combine cultures with American students celebrating as well,” Mrs. Rue said. “Not only were they interacting with the Chinese students, they also had opportunity to see how Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year. For the Chinese students, they were very excited, commenting to me often, ‘we are far away from the country and the families, but we are not falling behind with our traditional holiday.’”
- PreK students did a presentation during Lower School assembly about the Chinese New Year. They wore hats they made in class and carried a dragon, lanterns and native fans. They each presented something they learned about the Chinese New Year, for example Max Salebra said “Red means good luck in China.” Cassandra Bonilla said, “They wear kimonos in China” and wore one in assembly to show everyone.
Mrs. Reynolds said, “We loved learning all about the Chinese New Year and finishing up our unit with a traditional student Dragon dance in assembly. We also had a celebration with Chinese food, chopsticks, fortune cookies and red envelopes with Chinese money inside. Best of all, each PreK student was able to either write or trace a sentence that they came up with telling everyone something they learned about the Chinese New Year and standing on stage during assembly to share what they wrote. Gong Xi Fa Cai.”
- Boarding students went to dinner with Farragut residential life director Calvin Brown.
- Zhuoyuan “Oscar” Xu and Yuchen “Jack” Wang are going to perform two songs during the SPIFFS Chinese New Year Celebration on February 13 at Largo Central Park.
For the uninitiated to the Chinese New year, here are some things to know:
- Monday, February 8, 2016 marked the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, China’s biggest and most ceremonious holiday. Though China officially operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar calendar maintains ceremonial significance, and so every year, around the new moon closest to the beginning of spring, Chinese people ring in the beginning of a new annual cycle.
- It has long been a Chinese tradition to set off firecrackers when the New Year clock strikes. The tradition is to set off one string of small firecrackers first, followed by three big firecrackers, which symbolize “sounding out” the old year and “sounding in” the new year. The louder the three firecrackers, the better and luckier it’s believed it will be for business and farming in the coming year.
- Like Christmas in the West, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. The most common gifts are red envelopes. To the Chinese, red represents good fortune, and so around the New Year the color can be seen everywhere in Chinese cities: red lanterns hang in doorways; red paper cutouts adorn windows.
- Certain foods are eaten during the festival (especially at the New Year’s Eve dinner) because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances. Fish is a must for Chinese New Year as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year.
- App-sent/received “red envelopes” appeared in 2015, and they soon become the most popular New Year activity among the young. Many young people spend most of their 2015 New Year holiday time exchanging cyber money via red envelope apps for fun. WeChat has a modern alternative. Thanks to an excellent money-transfer function, friends can send digital red envelopes to one another. WeChat has even gamified the act of giving money. You can, for instance, post a red envelope with a certain amount of cash to a group chat, and the money will be divided to the first few people to click on the link. It’s not uncommon to find young Chinese users glued to the app frantically tapping on red envelopes during dinner. Jack Wang said he has stayed connected with his family and friends back in China by sending red envelopes via WeChat.