Lunar New Year celebration brings crowds

Kicking off the new year with colorful fireworks, warm green tea and delicious rice cakes, families and students celebrated Lunar New Year at Tinkham Veale University Center (TVUC) on Friday, Feb. 16. In honor of the Year of the Dog, free dog plushies were given to the first 300 individuals who arrived.

Dressed in bright red and in hopeful spirits for the new year, the event bustled with conversing guests; as the crowds waited for the fireworks display, activities such as paper lantern making were offered. Additionally, the Chinese Dragon, symbolic of Chinese culture, was paraded throughout the building, and at 9:15 p.m., the highly anticipated fireworks lit the night skies with splashes of color, welcoming 2018.

Case Western Reserve University Center for International Affairs Coordinator of Programming Cami Ross described Lunar New Year as “one of the biggest holidays around the world.”

Bringing familiarity and sense of home to some students while raising awareness of the cultural significance of Lunar New Year were the ultimate goals of the Center for International Affairs.

As an organization, Ross said, “[The Center for International Affairs] wanted students who participated in it back at home to feel welcome here, but also to let everybody know about what it is and educate the rest of our campus.”

The celebration of Lunar New Year was certainly no new experience for four-year-old Mahina Jenkins, as she excitedly said, “Fireworks! Fireworks!”

Although the fireworks ceremony attracted a large crowd, some guests celebrated Lunar New Year off-campus as well. Ross described her past Lunar New Year celebration in Cleveland’s Asiatown, which she said involved lots of good food. Langston Middle School student Silas Jenkins also celebrated Lunar New Year at Langston, and he emphasized the “food that the Mandarin teacher gave [the class].”

The demography of Lunar New Year celebrations—from middle schools to colleges—shows how the holiday’s influence seems to be expanding in creative and impactful ways.

Eric Du and Hermione, both one-year visiting students from China, described their celebrations of Lunar New Year in their native China, providing an insightful perspective on the holiday’s cultural roots.

“[Lunar New Year is] a chance for family members to remember each other, gather together and have dinner and to take some traditional food,” Hermione said.

In addition to spending time with family, in China, Du and Hermione explained that respects are paid to deceased family members by “cleaning their shrine” or “sweeping their grave,” which adds another layer to the celebration. On a lighter note, when asked what they missed most about celebrating New Year in China, both Hermione and Du said, “Money.”

The event at TVUC was made possible by The Center for International Affairs, First Year Experience & Family Programs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of the Provost. The large turnout and positive feedback certainly suggests good fortune for the rest of 2018, and next time, the fireworks celebration will bring in the Year of the Pig.