California Baptist University’s Community Life and International Student Services offices collaborated to usher in the Lunar New Year on Jan. 28 with lion dancing, festive food and impactful performances.
According to the Chinese calendar, this Lunar Year is characterized by their first zodiac sign, the rat. This zodiac sign will begin a new 12-year cycle and is said to bring industrialism and wealth.
To commemorate the Year of the Rat, Lancer Plaza was decorated festively with paper lanterns and activity booths. Many students showed up to participate in cultural activities including traditional games, crafts and Chinese calligraphy.
Traditionally, red pockets with “lucky money” are given to children in China in the new year. Instead, CBU had students collect stamps from the various activity stations until they collected enough stamps for a red envelope, which contained a reward such as a gift card inside. Red envelopes, a Lunar New Year custom that began during the Han Dynasty, offered a fresh twist to the event.
Shellyn Beltran, assistant director of International Student Services, reflected on her office’s goals for an event like Lunar New Year.
“Every year we celebrate the Lunar Festival to highlight East Asian cultures… For our students that are Chinese and Korean, we want to celebrate them and make them feel at home and (show them) we appreciate their culture,” Beltran said. “For some students that have never experienced that before, it’s trying something new—trying a new activity or hearing new kinds of music other than what they’re used to.”
Beltran also explained that the Lunar Festival took place at a new location, the Lancer Plaza and the Community Life Lounge.
“We wanted to have it out- side. Last year we were unable to because of the rain. Having it in a new area on campus is fitting for an event like this,” Beltran said.
Sarah Laker, junior nursing major and International Center intern, explained that she was excited for students to experience a holiday that is not tethered to American culture.
“I hope that students gain a little perspective on the culture at CBU but also the culture of Chinese New Year. They can also play games, listen to some songs and have some great food,” Laker said.
Many students look forward to attending CBU’s Lunar New Year Festival year after year. Sunny Wang, a first-year kinesiology graduate student, said she attended the event for her third time.
“My favorite part of the event is probably the free Boba,” Wang said. “I like how CBU celebrated Chinese New Year. They bring in different countries’ cultures onto campus. They bring student performances and Chinese crafts and different Chinese food into this event.”
During the festival, participants enjoyed entertainment. Wang said that memorable student performances offered a special highlight during the evening.
“I like how some of the performances are actually by Chinese students,” Wang said.
One violinist who performed, Celine Ong, freshman instrumental performance major, said she was excited to see some customs of her home brought onto campus.
“It’s great because even though we are not in our home now, we still can feel the Lunar New Year here,” Ong said.
Community Life and International Student Services encouraged students to gather to celebrate Chinese heritage and welcome the Year of the Rat.