By Maria Isidoro
International students hosted the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Sheep last Wednesday in the free speech area.
The idea was to share Chinese traditions with all students at East Los Angeles College who haven’t been exposed to the New Year festivities before as The Chinese welcomed the Year of the Sheep or the goat. According to the lunar calendar the sheep is associated with bringing good luck and prosperity between family and friends
The celebration of the Chinese New Year started February 19 and lasted for 15 days, bringing a new round of festivities each day in China.
Some of the Chinese traditions and festivities during the two weeks of celebrating new years are eating dumplings and sticky rice cakes and performing the dragon and lion dances.
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, which is the literal translation of the modern Chinese name.
Students of the International Students Advanced Program Club organized the Chinese New Year 2015 Temple Fair.
ISAP Club President Haoyu Li said most of the Chinese New Year celebration activities and game prizes were imported from China including sheep dolls, panda bears dolls, notebooks, key chains and the lion costume.
During the festival, Li said that families gather to eat traditional food, play games and enjoy time together.
Chinese students arranged activities such as to learn how to write Chinese characters.
“The calligraphy is one of the most brilliant stuff in China. The language is really difficult to learn and we (ISAP Club) want to give people the chance to learn more about Chinese writing,” Li said.
Many students participated to win game prizes such as using a calligraphy brush to mimic ancient Chinese characters.
According to students of ISAP Club, the calligraphy brush should be held vertically using only three fingers: thumb, index finger and middle finger.
ISAP Club offered traditional Chinese snacks to students who spin the wheel of fortune as well.
Throwing a set of rings to catch bottle of sodas on the ground is another traditional Chinese activity that students took part in, as an opportunity to win a Chinese sheep doll.
According to Li, the Chinese sheep dolls that were offered to students as game gifts symbolized fortune.
“It (sheep) means you can become rich and you can get luck,” Li said.
“In China, you can go to the Temple Fair and you can see different stuff on the ground like toys and gifts,” she said.
Christian Lopez, an ELAC student, volunteered to perform the lion dance movements as part of the festival, to win ISAP’s major game prize, a big, stuffed panda bear.
According to Chinese traditions, two dancers perform the lion dance and both jump in a form of imitating martial arts movements.
Accompanied by modern music Chinese, a professional live dance was performed by Chinese students of University of California, San Diego.
According to Li, the lion dance is considered an ancient tradition that the Chinese believe to bring good luck into the New Year.
“The lion dance is not only to bring good luck to those people who perform it, but also brings luck to the audience,” Li said.
Li said, performers can throw candy or gifts from the lion’s mouth.
“They will say something like Happy New Year and good luck to everyone in Chinese.”
Li also said that red decorations, fireworks, and loud noises are used in the New Year’s celebration as a way to scare-off bad luck or devils.
According to Li, people in China gather to perform the lion dance if the village or province is being terrified with demons.
“Also this performance symbolizes that for the next whole year we will have a lot of corn growing and fruit,” Li said.
Linghan Jiang, a member of ISAP Club, stated that celebrating the Chinese New Year 2015 at ELAC was also to help ease Chinese students the anxiety of spending the holiday away from home.