Chinese New Year

By Siiri Gilness


Most of us finish ringing in the New Year on the first of January.  While we are groaning under the weight of too much holiday food and nursing a headache brought on by too many glasses of spiked eggnog, the Chinese students at Missouri S&T are just beginning to prepare their New Year celebration. 

The Chinese New Year, based on the Chinese lunar calendar, always begins somewhere between mid-January and mid-February, and the S&T Chinese Students and Scholars Association celebrates the occasion with a Chinese Spring Festival held on the Missouri S&T campus.  

With more than 4,000 years of history, the Chinese New Year celebration is one of the most important events in Chinese culture.  The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle, in which each year is represented by a specific animal.  Each animal has certain attributes and features that are believed to be symbolic for those born in that animal year.  This year, 2018 ushers in the Year of the Dog in the Chinese zodiac.  Those born in a year of the dog (…1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018…) are said to be good-natured, loyal, and stubborn (much like the real four-legged dogs that many of us have in our homes!).

One of the key components to a Chinese New Year celebration is the traditional dancing.  The celebration might include a lion dance, involving two dancers in ornate costume performing as the head and body of the lion, or a dragon dance featuring a symbolic dragon situated atop a series of poles that are rhythmically raised and lowered by the dancers throughout the performance.  These dances are often performed with drums, cymbals, and gong, and are intended to ward off evil and bring good luck.  

Other traditions in the Chinese New Year celebration include celebratory dinners, fireworks, and the exchanging of gifts.  The color red, symbolizing happiness and good fortune, is prominent in costumes and decorations surrounding New Year’s festivities, and gift exchanges often include giving out red envelopes containing money.  

The Missouri S&T Chinese Students and Scholars Association will hold its Chinese Spring Festival on Sunday, January 28.  The festivities will begin with a cultural show in Leach Theatre at 4:00 pm, followed by a traditional Chinese dinner at the Havener Center.

Art Matters is a weekly column sponsored by Leach Theatre, a division of Student Affairs, on the campus of Missouri S&T, and produced by Emily Brickler, Managing Director of the theatre and ten-year veteran teacher with a Masters of Art in Teaching from Webster University.

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