WKU celebrates Chinese New Year: year of rooster

Gary Ransdell offers a one-hundred-dollar check to student Lin Weipeng, during the chinese new year celebration on Sat. Jan. 27, 2017 at the Confucius institute.

Tyger Williams

Bright red and gold decorations covered the walls and doors of the newly built Confucius Institute Saturday afternoon, colorfully representing good luck and good fortune. With traditional red lanterns, music, karaoke, paper cut outs, banners and scrolls with new year’s greetings and messages of good fortune, the celebration of the Chinese New Year had begun.

The reason behind the decorations and music comes from the story of The Chinese New Years. International students and teachers at the celebration spoke of a story taking place in the mountains of a monster known as Nian who attacks a village, making all the villagers hide in fear of the beast. They were told the beast is scared by the color red and loud noises, so everyone in the village hung red decorations and made loud noises from music and fireworks. Nian never returned, thus starting the annual celebration of Chinese New Year.

The year of the fire rooster started off 2017 on Jan. 28, the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Director of the Confucius Institute, Wei-Ping Pan, organized the celebration for the new year at the newly built Confucius Institute. Pan has been at WKU since 1986, working as a professor and as assistant to the president. 

“Our mission is to promote the Chinese language and do what is best for our students,” Pan said. “Chinese New Year number one is for reunion for family. We are one family. The second one is we appreciate the food. We invite everyone from host family and teachers to appreciate them for taking care of our kids.”

Confucius Institute Managing Director Terrill Martin brought attention to the 43 teachers from the 22 counties in appreciation for the work they’ve done to start off the new year. President Gary Ransdell also made an appearance at the New Year’s celebration to recognize the teachers.

“There are a lot of things that these teachers are bringing that are valued, not only to the young people that are teaching in elementary, middle schools and high schools across this region of Kentucky,” Ransdell said. “But what it will mean to many of those school systems, to the partnering with the 22 school districts.”

Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated for 15 days to follow the lunar calendar. The days count down to the first full moon after the Spring Festival and for the new year. The last day is known as the Lantern Festival.

“Chinese New Year is the most important festival for us and all the family members will get together and eat dumplings with a big feast,” said Hui-Hui Xu, Chinese language and culture teacher at Alvaton Elementary. “Every single day is a different activity and has special meaning to us.”

When the new year comes around, families look forward to seeing relatives. Kids take a month off school and adults take a few weeks off work to prepare for visiting family and friends by getting food, cleaning the house and setting up decorations.

Traditionally, kids receive a red envelope from relatives or friends as a Chinese New Year gift to bring good luck and happiness. At WKU’s celebration, students and teachers entered a raffle to receive prizes during Ransdell’s visit, including a red envelope containing money.

On Sunday, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association celebrated Chinese New Year at the Honors College and International Center.

“We want to promote the interaction between student and faculty in the Chinese community to have stronger bond, to feel more comfortable, to promote the Chinese culture and for people who are interested,” Rui Zhang, faculty adviser and organic chemistry professor, said.

Each year is represented by a different zodiac animal. This year celebrates the year of the rooster, the 10th out of the 12 zodiac animals.

“It is a good sign,” Zhang said. “When the year of the rooster comes, it brings good luck.”

Reporter Tyger Williams can be reached at (270)745-0655.