The Confucius Institute at Temple University hosted a celebration on Monday to ring in the 2020 Lunar New Year, which started on Jan. 25 and ends on Feb. 4.
Entertainment included traditional Chinese activities, like a Chinese tea making table, a calligraphy display, a paper cutting activity and various live performances.
Lindsay Fink, a senior global studies major, who was working at the event, discussed the importance of this celebration on campus.
“There’s not a lot of Chinese New Year events in Philly, so it’s nice to have something on campus,” Fink said. “Like, imagine living somewhere where there’s no decorations for Christmas.”
Since Spring 2016, the Confucius Institute has been providing Chinese language resources for international and domestic students, including a Chinese tutoring program, interpreters for Chinese students during student conduct cases and summer trips to China for Temple students and faculty.
“As a center that promotes Chinese culture and language, it is important for us to hold a Lunar New Year celebration to share the holiday and its traditions with others,” said Ashley Phifer, coordinator at the Confucius Institute. “It also provides our Chinese community here on campus a place to celebrate the holiday with others.”
This Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the year of the rat. The Chinese Zodiac, an ancient system based on the lunar calendar, decides which animal will represent each new year, Time Magazine reported.
Lunar New Year traditions include cleaning one’s bedroom on Lunar New Year’s Eve “to bring good luck to the new year,” said Yingru Zhao, instructor at the Confucius Institute.
“In China, it is the greatest and most important festival…it’s like Christmas,” Zhao said.
Po-sung Hsu, a first year business analytics graduate student, attended the event. His family always comes together for the Lunar New Year, he said.
“On Chinese New Year’s Eve, we [family] have a reunion dinner, and after, the parents and grandparents give out red envelopes with lucky money inside,” Hsu said.
Observing cultural holidays and taking part in celebrations can make students feel more connected with the language they are studying, Zhao said.
“To learn language, you need to know a little background about the culture…in Chinese textbooks we learn about food and Lunar New Year … we celebrate Lunar New Year here because it evokes emotion, despite not being in China.” Zhao said.
Freshman advertising major Alea Burns, who is currently taking a Chinese language class, said she was at the event to familiarize herself with the culture.
“I’m planning on studying abroad in China next year, so I want to dip my toe into the culture,” Burns said.
The Confucius Institute exists to make students feel at home no matter where they’re from, Phifer said.
“Overall, we’re here to provide a safe, warm, inviting environment for any student that comes to our office,” Phifer added.