Allegheny rings in the Chinese New Year

Fireworks.

Acrobats.

Colorful dragon dancers.

As a first-generation American of Chinese descent, Winnie Wong, ’12, has heard her parents recount their memories of these Chinese New Year traditions for years. Tonight, Allegheny celebrates the Chinese Spring Festival, the most important holiday of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar.

Xiaoling Shi, Assistant Professor of Chinese, spoke about the holiday’s significance.

“[The Festival] indicates the coming of the spring and foretells the good fortune of the next year,” said Shi. “Chinese language students, students and faculty members from China or other Asian countries and kids from [the] Meadville community will perform Chinese songs.” In keeping with the tradition of feasts leading up to the New Year, free Chinese food will also be provided at the celebration.

Guo Wu, Assistant Professor of History, shared some of his own personal memories of the New Year.

“For a person growing up in China…the Spring Festival, first and foremost, means lots of food,” said Wu.

Wu said that traditionally, the festival is celebrated with many banquets for 15 days, beginning on New Year’s Eve, the last day before the New Year begins in the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival ends, usually with a lantern show, on February 15.

Sharon Wesoky, Associate Professor of Political Science, talked about the holiday’s enormous popularity in China.

“In China itself, the holiday produces what is described as the world’s largest human migration, during which over 2 billion trips are made for people to travel to and from their hometowns,” Wesoky said.

“The most exciting thing on the eve is waiting for [midnight], like the Americans do in Times Square on the night of Dec. 31,” Wu said.

Included among the traditions of the Chinese Spring Festival is a pasttime where children receive money from adults in little red envelopes that signify New Year’s wishes.

When a child comes of age in China, they can no longer receive, but instead must give out the little red envelopes.

“Overall, [the Festival] is a time for socialization of friends, gift exchanges, family reunions and best wishes for everyone,” Wu said.

The Chinese Spring Festival at Allegheny College will be hosted tonight by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, the Asian Studies Program and the International Office in Shultz East Alcove from 5 to 8 p.m.