A child twisted red, orange and yellow felt together in her hands to make a goldfish. At the next table, another child laughed and dropped globs of pink paint on a page to form a branch of cherry blossoms.
These activities were a part of Family Craft Day in honor of Chinese New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Rooster. The event, which took place Sunday in the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, involved crafts such as felt goldfish, cherry blossom paintings, Chinese calligraphy banners and rooster noisemakers.
A child speckled her rooster with purple, pink and green at one table. Her mother Jaee Likhit said she attended the event with her children and husband because they wanted an engaging indoor activity.
“We can’t really do anything outside these days, and our younger one is very interested in doing crafts and hands-on things like that,” she said.
Scattered around the room were a couple signs with information about Chinese New Year. One introduced the rooster as one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. Another explained people born in the Year of the Rooster are said to be bright, ambitious, warm-hearted and responsible.
However, Likhit said she wished the event involved more information about the history and culture behind Chinese New Year.
“The crafts are really great for the younger kids, but I think it’d be nice to have a more educational aspect for older kids and adults,” she said. “I really want to know more about Chinese New Year and Chinese culture.”
While she said she came because it was something for her daughter to enjoy, attendee and parent Marika Voukidis said she was also interested in the cultural aspect of Chinese New Year. As a result, she said it is important for Americans to understand and appreciate Chinese New Year even though it is not an American holiday.
“We should look to understand and celebrate all kinds of culture,” she said. “We live in a diverse country and community, so it’s important to learn about different cultures and holidays that aren’t typically American.”
Sarah Hatcher, head of programs and education at Mathers, said she agrees that it is important to celebrate holidays that were not originally American.
“We are getting more and more diversity here in Bloomington, especially with the increasing number of Chinese international students at IU,” she said. “So it’s important for us to understand who they are, where they came from and what they celebrate.”
Likhit said she wants her children to better understand Chinese culture because a lot of their classmates are Chinese. Even her oldest son’s best friend is Chinese-American.
She said, “It’s important for all to learn about what’s important to the people we meet and are friends with to grow tolerance and appreciation for where someone else is coming from.”
In addition to creating increased understanding, Voukidis said the familial aspect of the event was her favorite part.
“It’s just nice to come together and do something like this with your family,” she said. “Crafts can kind of bring you together.”
Hatcher said this component of the event was exactly what she was trying to emphasize. She said this is one of her favorite parts about Chinese New Year in general.
“Chinese New Year, as I know it, is really all about family and coming together,” she said. “So we really wanted to bring families together to craft and work on something, to really capture that heart of what Chinese New Year’s all about.”
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