City College celebrates Chinese New Year

By Kyle Roque

 

The City College Chinatown/North Beach campus was transformed into a makeshift Chinese New Year street fair to celebrate the year of the rooster on Feb. 10.

 

With over 200 people in attendance, it was the first Chinese New Year celebration held at the Chinatown/North Beach campus in the four years they have been at their 808 Geary St. location.

 

The event started at 11 a.m. with a traditional lion dance, followed by a tai chi demonstration by English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor Rod Yee, and concluded with a reception where guests could play games, win prizes and participate in events that celebrate Chinese culture.

 

Fanny Law is another ESL instructor at the campus and spoke of personal sentiment when asked what Chinese New Year meant to her.

 

Law said she grew up in Hong Kong where Chinese New Year was a large event that was really felt by the community. She said it was a time when families came together with many people returning home to celebrate and enjoy the festival with their loved ones.

 

The campus’ ceilings and pillars were adorned with paper lanterns and a large paper dragon lined the banister of the staircase leading to the second floor. Traditional Chinese music played throughout the reception as guests dashed around the lobby looking for strips of paper with riddles attached to the lanterns. If students solved the riddles, they would win a prize.

 

The booths were surrounded with people eager to fold origami animals or have couplets written for them in Chinese calligraphy.

 

Various legends and stories pertaining to the origins of Chinese New Year or the Spring festival were discussed, though they vary and it isn’t clear when the festival began to be originally celebrated.

 

Family, food, and fireworks are three staples of Chinese New Year. To this day members of the family will all come home and have a large reunion dinner with dishes that symbolize togetherness, prosperity and abundance- such as whole chicken and fish.

 

As tradition bestows, midnight is when everyone sets off fireworks and rings in the new year. The next morning children usually receive red envelopes containing money from their elders.

 

Law said the event was an opportunity to “bring together her City College family” and to “remind them of home.” It is also the first event held by the campus’ student council, most of whom are from China.

 

The Chinatown/North Beach Student Council President, Karmen Xu, said that this event was an opportunity to not only “celebrate our culture, but to share it with everyone.”

 

A group of children performing the traditional lion dance at City College’s Chinese New Year celebration. (Photo by CHNB Student Council)
A group of children performing the traditional lion dance at City College’s Chinese New Year celebration. (Photo by CHNB Student Council)
A group of attendees show off the Chinese couplets that they made at City College’s Chinese New Year celebration. (Photo by CHNB Student Council)
A group of attendees show off the Chinese couplets that they made at City College’s Chinese New Year celebration. (Photo by CHNB Student Council)