Lunar New Year: Chinese Department Hosts Celebrations

Banners that celebrate the 2018 Lunar New Year hang over the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall.
P.Emerson/The Phillipian

Banners that celebrate the 2018 Lunar New Year hang over the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall.

A simple look at the outside of Samuel Phillips Hall currently reveals two red banners that signify this year’s Lunar New Year. The banners, which roughly translate to “Spring returns to the ground. Fourtune comes to everyone,” usher in a time auspicious for people around the world.

Amy Chew ’20, whose family celebrates the Lunar New Year, described the annual celebration as one characterized by love and hope.

“It’s a time to get together with my family [and] reunite with family that I haven’t seen in a while, especially since we live in different places. It’s also just a way to show your love to your family, wishing them a good, fruitful year,” said Chew.

Every year, the Chinese Department hosts a number of events for Lunar New Year. This year, celebrations were kicked off with a dumpling-making party in Paresky Commons on Tuesday. The party was followed by the Lunar New Year Talent Show, which was held in Kemper Auditorium on Wednesday night.
Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese, enjoys the excitement the celebration brings for her, especially because the events are an opportunity to share Chinese culture with her students.

“[Lunar New Year] is the most important festival in China, and it’s like Christmas for Westerners. I want them to see how excited I am, and then they will be also excited,” said Ma.

On-campus events have also given the opportunity for people to share the various ways Lunar New Year is celebrated across different backgrounds. Lilia Cai-Hurteau, Instructor and Chair in Chinese, relayed her experience on being exposed to these differences.
“I realized this year that since our teachers are from different parts of China, we actually celebrate somewhat differently. We have New Year’s Eve, but we have another New Year’s Eve before that, and that New Year’s Eve was different, apparently, regionally. I just realized that this year, and I thought that was super interesting just talking to other Chinese teachers,” said Cai-Hurteau.

In the past couple of years, the Chinese Department has worked to offer even more events to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Cai-Hurteau described how students’ desire to celebrate Lunar New Year sparked commitment on part of the department.

“When I came to this school seven years ago, there were a lot of Chinese students saying that when [they] come here, nothing’s happening for Chinese New Year. Some of them actually had to go to Boston to just look for celebrations, so they were really just hoping that we would do stuff on campus, not just for the Chinese Department but for anybody who celebrates Chinese New Year,” said Cai-Hurteau.

“We want to make sure that the kids who celebrate at home, they could feel like their holiday is being celebrated. It’s a big deal for them, so we want to make it a big deal for them,” continued Cai-Hurteau.

Emily Warren ’21, while acknowledging the differences between Andover’s celebrations and those in Hong Kong, expressed her appreciation for the Chinese Department’s efforts.

“It obviously isn’t as traditional as it is in Hong Kong, being [as] it is here in the United States. However, I can tell that the Chinese department tries really hard to introduce us to the traditional culture, such as dumpling making, spending time with each other, and making lanterns with sayings on them,” said Warren.

“This is supposed to be a time you’re supposed to spend with your family, but being here with friends who I now consider my family — it’s also just as nice,” continued Warren.

Looking ahead to this Saturday, the Chinese Department will host the Lunar New Year Friendship Dinner in Paresky Commons. Proceeds gathered from attendees will be used to buy school supplies and other items for a special needs school in China.