International Students Celebrate Chinese New Year

Shuyue Zhang
Shuyue Zhang
Tuan Nguyen
Tuan Nguyen
Yu Tian
Yu Tian

The 2020 Chinese New Year started January 25th and international students in the College of Business are celebrating. “The Spring Festival is the most important festival for the Chinese people,” explains Yu Tian, a College of Business international student, “and is when all family members get together, just like Christmas in the West.” The Chinese New Year is the first lunar month, about one month after the solar Gregorian Calendar, which is used in most of the world.

Some traditions celebrating the Spring Festival include house decorations, shou sui - staying up late or all night on New Year’s Eve, a New Year’s Feast, firecrackers, lucky money and New Year’s Greetings. Lucky money is given to unmarried family members, in a red envelope, from their relatives as a New Year’s gift that brings good luck. Bai Nian – New Year’s Greetings typically occurs on the first day of the New Year or shortly thereafter. This is when everyone wears new clothes and greets relatives and friends with bows and Gongxi (congratulations), wishing one another good luck and happiness in the New Year. 

The food eaten on New Year’s varies across regions. In south China, it is customary to eat 'niangao', New Year cake made of glutinous rice flour. In the north, a traditional dish for the feast is 'Jiaozi' or dumplings shaped like a crescent moon according to Yu Tian. In Vietnam, dishes eaten on New Year’s include ‘banh chung’ and ‘banh tet’, which are traditional Vietnamese rice cakes. 

Tuan Nguyen, a College of Business international student, explains how the Chinese New Year is celebrated in Vietnam. “In Vietnam, the first thing we do to prepare for the Chinese New Year is cleaning our houses. People joke that the Chinese New Year is also the National Cleaning Day.” Following the cleaning, some Vietnamese traditions include decorating the house with flowers, having relatives over for a feast, burning incense to show honor and reverence for ancestors, fireworks, going to a pagoda to make a wish and lucky money. At midnight, it is customary to place fruit on the table and burn incense to worship the god of wealth and the god of the Earth/guardian spirit.

Each New Year is marked with one of 12 Zodiac signs, 2020 being the Rat. The Rat Zodiac is known to be clever and resourceful. According to Tuan Nguyen, those born in the year of the Rat will have a lucky year. It is also important to wear red things during the Spring Festival holiday as it is a sign of luck. “People need to wear red socks, red clothes, even their insoles need to be red,” describes Shuyue Zhang, a College of Business international student.

This year, Yu Tian agreed to film her New Year celebration to share with the College of Business. We hope you enjoy her video!