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UNC commemorates the Lunar New Year

Various Chinese, Japanese and other cultural clubs celebrate the Year of the Fire Rooster

By Erika Siebring
On February 12, 2017

UNC's Cosplay School of Sitchcraft sells canvas paintings of the Chinese zodiac animals. Photo by Erika Siebring | The Mirror

Exactly fifteen days after the start of the Chinese New Year, all of UNC’s Asian culture-inspired clubs and organizations collaborated with each other on Saturday in order to create UNC’s 10th Annual Lunar New Year Celebration. A free carnival of booths introduced UNC students and community members to crafts and food from China, Japan, and other Asian countries, strengthening cultural ties.

    To commemorate the year of the rooster, who’s element for the 2017 year is fire, the Chinese Culture Club offered construction paper and tissue paper for anyone wanting to make their own paper lantern. The tradition here is that fifteen days after the start of the new year--January 28 in this case--the new year celebration ends with the Lantern Festival.

    Sophomore Asian studies major Miranda Delay, a member of the CCC, explained that the lanterns are meant to bring good luck to whomever makes one. 

    “You can make wishes and hopefully it’ll come true throughout the year,” Delay said.

    The club’s meetings are designed to engage in Chinese culture as much as possible, including playing traditional games and making traditional food and crafts. Following the same pattern, the Japanese Culture and Anime Club exhibited origami flowers and ninja throwing stars, called ‘shuriken,’ as well as mini crocheted pokeballs, animals, donuts, and other yarn creatures called ‘amigurumi.’

    UNC’s Cosplay School of Sitchcraft featured canvas paintings of each animal of the Chinese zodiac, as well as homemade ‘fortune’ and ‘misfortune’ cookies. Co-presidents Quinh Vo, of Vietnamese descent, and Kristina Ratzi, of Korean descent, explained how the new year is very prominent in both their cultures. Vo, a junior psychology major, even wore a traditional Vietnamese dress called a ao dai.

“You can wear these when you go to temples, for special occasions like New Years or weddings,” Vo said. “I know that some high school and colleges in Vietnam, they’ll have this as a standard uniform for girls, and it’ll be all white.”

    Vo also explained how much care goes into making one of these dresses, saying it is designed to accentuate the female body; therefore, one has to have their dress specifically tailored to them, or else it won’t look the way it is supposed to.

    Immediately following the carnival, a series of vocal, dance, and other performances payed homage to the new year in both educational and playful ways. A short presentation explained to the audience that on Chinese New Year’s Eve, not only do elders give children red packets full of money, but an individual mustn’t go to sleep until after New Year’s Eve has passed--this means an individual will have a long life. The celebration is different for each following day, with the first day being reserved for going to a temple, and everyone staying inside on the third day to avoid bad luck.

    To inform the audience about how the Chinese zodiac was formed, UNC students Tyler Bibbey and Sahel Negash narrated the legend while holding up popsicle sticks with the heads of the ox, rat, dog, and other animals on them. Though the story has many variations, this variation involved the Jade Emperor challenging all the animals in the world to a swimming race, and the first 12 to cross the finish line would have a year named after them. Other performances involved UNC students Morgan Overly singing and Lin Qi playing the piano to a song entitled “Hope,” and UNC student Delayne Johnson playing her ukulele and singing “The Moon Represents My Heart.”

    Members of several participating clubs also took it upon themselves to inform UNC students of different study abroad programs, if one wanted to learn more about the Asian cultures represented at the celebration.

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