The Celebration of the 2020 Chinese New Year of Rat
Note: The following article is written by Peng Yang, the Chinese teacher sent by Confucius Institute at USC to James F. Byrnes High School, whose Chinese teaching is supported by this CI.
Since January 21, 2020, the Byrnes High School Chinese Class has begun to prepare for the celebration of the Chinese Spring Festival, officially known as “Chinese New Year”, the most traditional festival in China for family reunion, like the Christmas to Americans. As the most important annual event, the traditional Chinese New Year celebration lasts for up to two weeks, starting from the Lunar New Year's Eve, that is, January 24 for this year.
The decision of celebrating multicultural festivals by Byrnes is to allow students to better experience the multicultural customs and traditions of different countries. It is also for students to broaden their horizons and understand a different world.
After two weeks’ hard-working, students in Chinese class at Byrnes have carefully crafted a variety of handicrafts such as paper cutting, window coverings, Chinese knots, lanterns, etc., adding a different kind of fun to the event. On the wish wall, students posted their goals and pursuits for the new year, firmly believing they will realize them in the future.
On the morning of the January 31, even before the bell rang, students began to prepare for the event. Hanging lanterns, pasting spring couplets, and pasting windowpanes. Everyone was nervous and excited. After nearly three hours of preparation, all props are arranged.
At Power Hour at Byrnes, the event started. In the hallway, cheerful music is reflected in the ears, the red lanterns are hung high outside the classroom, the eye-catching spring couplets, and “Fú (福)”, immediately bring people into the atmosphere of the Chinese New Year.
Entering the classroom, the first thing that catches the eye is the paper cutting pasted on the window: the mouse-shaped paper cutting echoes the year of the Rat (2020). The spring-character-shaped paper cutting characterizes the Chinese Spring Festival.
The Peking Opera's face-style Chinese knot combines two traditional Chinese cultures and has received unanimous praise from teachers and students. At the same time, the introduction of the Spring Festival was shown on the wall to help with understanding this event. This activity helps with the understanding of the customs of the Chinese Spring Festival, and nowadays the Spring Festival travel rush. In addition, the Spring Festival Gala broadcast by China Central Television was shown on the scene.
The most popular food among the students is dumplings, which is the most famous food in China. Even under limited conditions, the dumplings during the Power Hour have become cold, it still cannot stop the students' love of dumplings. Nearly 400 dumplings were eaten in an hour.
On Monday February 3, 2020, students in Chinese class went over about the Chinese Spring Festival again. After their participant in the event, students make it more clearly about Chinese Spring Festival. Among their feedback, 98% of students agree that it was a very successful. “It was a really fun experience. It showed me a great extent of the culture with the style of how things were” said student Isaiah. “I think the best point to me is to make the hand crafts, and I’d love to do that again,” said Desri, and Nadallie added that “I think it was prepared really well, and I want to make more lanterns.”
This event lends an opportunity for all students about the long history of Chinese culture, and it is an effective platform for schools to promote Chinese language and culture.