Indiana Daily Student

IU’s Chinese student organizations plan virtual celebrations for Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year, an important celebration signifying the start of the Chinese lunar calendar, is traditionally marked with global celebrations of food, fireworks and various parties.

Lunar New Year celebrations often involve inviting loved ones over for large meals, usually dumplings and fried fish, associate professor of history Fei-Hsien Wang said. She compared the day to a combination of Christmas and Thanksgiving.

“The tradition will be no matter where you are, you are supposed to go home and enjoy the holiday with your family,” Wang said.

2021 is the Year of the Ox, sometimes referred to as the Buffalo, which means a year of good luck to anyone born under the same Chinese zodiac sign, Wang said. 

In Chinese culture, those born during the Year of the Ox are seen as hardworking in Chinese culture, according to CNN.

Organizations such as the Chinese Student and Scholars Association and IU’s Chinese Flagship Program are moving Lunar New Year festivities online because of  the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CSSA plans to offer an online Lunar New Year celebration Friday night, streaming dance groups and music among other festivities.

Events will include a lottery drawing, giving away Apple products, including one MacBook Air, two 2020 iPads, six Home Pod Minis and 15 gift cards, senior Husheng Guo, vice president of the CSSA, said.

Anyone with the link can watch the livestream, Guo said. However, only IU students are eligible to enter the lottery.

IU dance clubs D-Force and X-Power and Michigan State’s Silk Road Chinese Orchestra will perform, Guo said.

The CSSA plans to use Bili Bili, a Chinese streaming website, to broadcast the celebration live, he said. The platform has fewer restrictions on sharing content overseas, a policy common among other streaming platforms such as Netflix. 

Guo said it was important to provide a show to support Chinese people who miss their home country.

In the past, the CCSA has held large, catered New Year’s celebrations in the IU Auditorium, Guo said.

In 2021, Lunar New Year celebrations begin with the Chinese New Year’s Eve on Feb. 11 and end with the Lantern Festival on Feb. 26.

The CSSA is working to plan a safe fireworks display later in February, Guo said.

The IU Chinese Flagship Program is sending cultural learning items to flagship members in celebration, Brian Flaherty, assistant director of IU’s Chinese Flagship Center, said. This will include replicas of ancient Chinese coins, red envelopes typically exchanged on the holiday and paper decorations.

With limited travel due to COVID-19 restrictions, some students, like fourth year Ph.D. student Aolan Mi, plan to celebrate in small groups of friends on campus. 

“This year is particularly difficult because I don't know when I can go back to China to my home,” she said.

Mi said there is a limited number of flights to China. She said available flights are expensive and also require quarantine upon returning to the U.S.

Before the pandemic, Mi said she celebrated the Lunar New Year with her parents, cooking dumplings from scratch in her home in Beijing.

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