BY MONICA VEGA
The Spring Festival is an annual tradition celebrated in China and worldwide. The festival marks the beginning of the Lunar Year, also known as the Chinese New Year and is marked by a presiding animal zodiac. This fifteen day celebration is marked with fireworks, special meals, and an abundance of the color red.
On Friday, February 13, UGA celebrated its very own Spring Festival. The event featured comical skits, musical performances, dance performances, a tai-chi demonstration, and my personal favorite: a magic show.
The event, hosted by the Chinese Student Association and the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, aims to bring the Chinese community together and to enhance cultural awareness and communication between international students and American students. Jincheng Wang, a PH.D. student of toxicology who serves as president of the Chinese Student Association said, “some of us do not understand our own culture very well, so during this cultural communication, we are helping the people from outside of the Chinese community to understand more of the Chinese culture and more of our country and also helping ourselves learn more about our own country.”
The Spring Festival did just that. The event introduced time-honored traditions of the Chinese New Year like eating dumplings and popping fireworks, but it also included modern dances and musical performances, showing us that culture is indeed a very complicated thing. However, the resonating theme was that of coming together to celebrate with family and friends. This is a theme that we can relate to no matter who we are because it transcends all cultural boundaries.
This year, there appears to be some confusion as to what zodiac animal is being celebrated. Vietnam, for one, is gearing up for the “Year of the Goat” as is evident by the image of this animal on their banknotes. On the other hand, Japan has been busy printing sheep-themed New Year post cards to celebrate the “Year of the Sheep.”
However, this confusion seems to only trouble English-speakers. To the Chinese and others celebrating the Spring Festival, the distinction is irrelevant. “It’s funny. In China, it is only one word; it’s the yang. It’s the same character and we use this character to mean the same thing. But it doesn’t matter, it’s the same thing,” explained Wang.
The Spring Festival is the most important celebration of the year for the Chinese, similar to the importance of Christmas and Thanksgiving in the United States. This is why the distinction of what animal is being celebrated is unimportant. At the end of the day what matters is that the Spring Festival is spent celebrating with family and friends.