Chinese New Year (春节)

Last Thursday (February 19th) was the Lunar New Year. At OU, the holiday was accompanied by a variety of fun events hosted by a combination of the Chinese Department, Chinese Language Club, Chinese Society of Students and Scholars, and Confucius Institute. There was free Chinese food on the South Oval, food, games, and the CCTV Chinese New Year show in Wagner hall on Thursday night, and a Chinese New Year Gala complete with food and performances by the CSSS on Sunday. There were also events and cheap authentic Chinese food at local Chinese restaurants. Of all these events, I unfortunately only made it to the free food on the South Oval (by chance) and the event on Thursday night.

Even though I only made it to one of the many fun events I could have gone to, the Chinese New Year celebration was a lot of fun. We ate a variety of Chinese food, including delicious rice rolls made by my Chinese teacher and, of course, 饺子 (dumplings). After we ate, there were several Chinese cultural activities, including calligraphy, Ma jiang, and contests to see who was the best at using chopsticks. I finally learned how to play Ma jiang, which might be a valuable skill to have when I study abroad in China. One of the people I was playing with had been to China, and said that Ma jiang is, in fact, quite popular in Beijing. Since I spent so much time learning how to play Ma jiang, I didn’t really get a chance to do any calligraphy or chopstick competitions before the event ended, but I still had a great time.

Throughout the entire event, the Chinese New Year show, which is broadcast on CCTV in China, was playing. The show is basically a collection of songs, dances, acrobatics, and sketches that lasts for about five hours, so we didn’t get to see the whole thing. In China, the show is watched by just about everyone who has a TV and includes most of China’s biggest celebrities. As my Chinese teacher said, a Chinese person will know they’re truly a celebrity if they are on the New Year show. What I saw of this year’s show included a confusing sketch, that would have probably been funny if I were better at understanding Chinese, and a mash up of several of this year’s biggest Chinese songs. I didn’t really recognize any of them except for a few lines of 小苹果 (if you’re into confusing music video experiences, this song is for you), but several of the people who had been to China and were more aware of popular Chinese songs were able to sing along. Overall, it was a lot of fun, and next year I’ll definitely try to make it to more Chinese New Year Events.

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