Celebrating the Chinese New Year
Celebrating the Chinese New Year

Tuesday, February 5 marked the start of the Chinese New Year.

Middle School students observed the special occasion in Chapel and through other campus activities, including a chopstick race on the Clark Campus Green.

Mandarin teacher Sophie Fu led Middle School Chapel on Tuesday, sharing her expertise and experiences with the Lunar New Year. "It is the most important holiday of the year, and it lasts 15 days," explained Ms. Fu. The celebration centers on several traditions including: cleaning, New Year Couplets, the family reunion dinner, the red envelope, and fireworks. The day before the New Year, houses are cleaned "to sweep away the bad luck and welcome in the good luck," explained Ms. Fu. Two red banners are traditionally hung vertically near the main doorway "to bring good luck and hope." A decorative Chinese character called "Fu," meaning fortune or good luck, is also displayed in homes. "It is a must decor for the New Year," said Ms. Fu.

During the traditional family reunion dinner, relatives share a variety of traditional foods that include fish (represents richness), dumplings (represents wealth), and rice cake called Niangao (represents a better life). During the family celebration, children receive the customary red envelope with money from parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. "Monetary gifts are given by the older generation to the younger generation to bring good luck. I still send money to my nieces and nephews," explained Ms. Fu.

The Lunar New Year celebration would not be complete without the traditional fireworks display and dragon and lion dance, which are used "to scare away evil spirits," said Ms. Fu.

Throughout the day, Middle and Upper School students took part in chopstick races, learned how to make dumplings and fortune cookies, and studied the art of calligraphy. A festive Chinese menu was also offered in the Tierney Dining Hall.

"My favorite part of the Chinese New Year was learning about astrology and palm reading," said Ceci Doherty '23. "I love learning about western astrology and horoscopes, and it was a lot of fun researching it in Chinese."

"The traditional red lanterns and the character are always splendid," observed Max Scharpf '23. "The effort put into the Lunar New Year festivities blows my mind. I am so glad to be able to help spread a crucial part of Chinese culture through the school."

Winners for the Upper School chopstick race included seniors Minjee Cho, Grace Hennigan, Caitlin Jorgensen, Rachel Barber, and Schuyler Sices.

The Middle School team of Experiential Learning Coach Kim Piersall and 7th graders Hunter Stetson, Ethan Wyatt-Wang, Winston Tang, and Will Esterhai won the Middle School race.

"The chopsticks race was a wonderful way to incorporate students of all ages who are learning Chinese at Episcopal," said Rachel Barber '19. "It was so fun to compete with and against my fellow classmates in a friendly competition that helped us learn about the Chinese New Year."

"Everything we did for the Chinese New Year made me appreciate how much I am glad to be in the Mandarin program and being part of the Chinese culture," said Chelsea Swei. "The research projects and dumpling making made me understand even more the meaning behind each tradition and aspect of Chinese New Year."

This year welcomes The Year of the Pig, which is determined by the Chinese Zodiac and has the traits of diligence, compassion, and generosity.

The Lunar New Year celebration dates back 5,000 years and is celebrated by over 1.6 billion people in 20 countries.