As our New Year starts off this February, we must also anticipate another holiday: The Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival! The week long holiday begins February 12th this year, with millions of Chinese people around the world traveling home for the holiday. If you have an international student in your home who can't go home for China's largest holiday, it's important to make them feel welcome during this time. The following can help!
What do families usually do over the Spring Festival? Here are some fast facts!
þ The holiday is most analogous to American Thanksgiving--it's a huge reunion for families usually
þ Families make and eat dumplings together on the Lunar New Year's Eve
þ There's a popular television program that most families watch together called 除夕晚会New Year's Gala that lasts for five hours until the new year. You can live stream it here.
þ Firecrackers are often set off at midnight to symbolize the new year
þ Red envelopes with money inside are often given as gifts to the younger people in the family
What can you do here in America?
Most major colleges have Chinese-American Student Associations (CASA) or Chinese Student Scholar Associations (CSSA) that have Spring Festival celebrations. CSSA's at multiple universities have dinners on Lunar New Year's Eve that play CCTV's New Year's Gala that are great for host families and students alike to join in on.
If you can't make it out to a gala night, you can always make dumplings at home with your international student. Making dumplings is relatively easy, just follow this recipe here.
Being with family is a huge focus of the Spring Festival, so offer to Skype or video-chat their families back home with them. This will not only be fun for the student, but it will make their families in China feel better getting to see they are not alone for the holiday!
Happy Lunar New Year!!
~The Ojisu Team~