The Year of the Dragon will turn into the Year of the Snake on Sunday, and University students across campus are preparing to celebrate the change.
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, Lunar New Year or Tet in other cultures, officially begins Feb. 10 and recognizes the start of a new lunar calendar.
The University’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association will host a Spring Festival celebration Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Union Theater, where attendees can take part in traditional Chinese festivities. The event is free and open to the public.
Jingyuan Liu, comparative literature graduate student and vice president of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, said although international students are unable to celebrate with family while studying abroad, they celebrate Chinese New Year together and try to create a warm atmosphere for everyone.
Liu said the CSSA is collaborating with other Chinese cultural associations for the celebration, which will include dancing, singing and games.
English freshman Sarah Rowland, to whom Liu teaches Mandarin Chinese, said she will be performing a duet in Mandarin with another student.
Chinese instructor Yanqiu Yang said the holiday is an important time for families, comparing it to Christmas in Western culture.
General business junior Linda Nguyen, who is half Vietnamese and half Chinese, described her family’s traditional ways of celebrating, noting the difference between her parents’ individual beliefs.
“My mom is Chinese, so she believes in a lot of the superstitions that come along with the New Year,” Nguyen said. “… My dad is Vietnamese and doesn’t really care for the superstitions.”
Nguyen said her mother’s superstitions include completely cleaning the house to welcome in the year, having the color red in the living room for luck and not doing any sweeping, laundry or washing one’s hair for the three days that comprise the New Year celebrations.
It is also traditional to wish elders a happy New Year, as well as luck, wealth, prosperity and health, Nguyen said. In return, elders usually give gifts of red envelopes containing any amount of money ranging from $1 to $100.
The University’s International Relations Club is also planning to celebrate the Lunar New Year, but on a smaller scale.
Political science junior and International Relations Club Vice President Kalena Thomhave said the group plans to go out to dinner Friday at a local Chinese restaurant.
Thomhave said although she has never celebrated the holiday before this year, she is looking forward to the new experience.