The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Chinese Aggies bring in the year of the monkey

Chinese+New+Year
Photo by Illustration by Jake Martindale
Chinese New Year

The year of the monkey will begin Monday, kicking off a 14-day celebration and a new lunar year for Chinese around the world.

Hong Zhou, the Chinese director of the Confucius Institute, said the Chinese New Year is a significant holiday for Chinese communities around the world, even bigger than New Year’s Day in the United States. The declaration of a new year is based on the lunar calendar, traditionally used by the Chinese in combination with the standard Gregorian calendar. In China, citizens get the entire holiday off to spend time with their families, the longest vacation they are given all year, said Zhou. 

More than 3 billion people traveled across the world for Chinese New Year in 2015, according to International Business Times. During a time known as the Chunyan period, Chinese people travel back home for the holiday to be with their families, whether it’s back in China or in a mutual location where the family can meet. 

Zhou said the Confucius Institute aims to hold celebrations for the many Chinese Aggies who don’t have the luxury of 

traveling back to their home country. The Confucius Institute holds a Chinese New Year celebration every year in front of the George Bush Library. Martial Arts, a lion dance and Chinese food are included in the event to emulate the spirit of a traditional Chinese New Year. 

“In most cases, [we] can’t go back,” said Ya Su, a statistics graduate student who is Chinese. “I just have a big meal with my friends including dumplings, then we watch the new years television program that plays every year.”

Hong Zhou said even though Chinese people are spread all over the world, they still manage to travel back to China. 

“It’s one of the largest migrations in the world,” Zhou said. “No matter how far they are, no matter how hard it is, they will come. It doesn’t matter how big the world is, they will go home.”

Zhou said leading up to the holiday, typically Chinese families clean their house thoroughly, buy new clothes, hang paper lanterns and couplets, and Zhou said at midnight families set off firecrackers to welcome the new year and say goodbye to the old one. 

The holiday isn’t as recognized in the United States, so the Chinese communities make due with what they are given, said Lan Zhou, an associate professor of statistics from northern China.

“We can only set off small firecrackers to celebrate the new year,” Lan said. “It’s not even the same thing. Back home when the clock struck midnight you couldn’t hear anything but firecrackers, and you could smell them everywhere. Even the government couldn’t stop it after they warned us of the pollution.”

Hong Zhou said the tradition still worth celebrating.

“I think the younger generation [of Chinese] has less interest in how the tradition moves,” said Zhou. “I don’t think the celebration is the same as before. They like to follow western tradition, but it’s important to let them know about their original tradition.”

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