Celebrating Chinese New Year away from home

Written by: 
Tomson Cheang

Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China Clubs celebrated Chinese New Year through preparing traditional Chinese dishes to make students feel at home, said club participants.

The Hong Kong Club
With a large basin full of delicacies served on each table, members of the Hong Kong Club celebrated Chinese New Year by having poon choi, also known as Big Bowl Feast on Feb. 16, the first day of the year as marked on the Chinese calendar.


At the beginning of the activity, Adrian Chan, the activity coordinator of the Hong Kong Club, who is a junior majoring in peace building, said, “There are 10 dishes in every basin, and all these 10 dishes are made by different people.”


Shing Chung Or, a sophomore from Hong Kong majoring in computer science, was the main chef for the event. He explained, poon choi is a famous Cantonese cuisine served in a large basin that consists of Chinese dishes such as grilled pork belly, radish, tofu, and fried tofu skin.


“The dishes are not just randomly placed in the basin with no order. We put Chinese vermicelli, cabbage, radish, fried tofu, and mushroom at the bottom because they need to absorb the sauce.” Or continued, “Grilled pork belly and chicken, are put on the top to make the poon choi more colorful and inviting.”

 

According to History.com, it’s a common tradition for Chinese people to cook a great amount of food and gather together as a family during the New Year. Or relayed the purpose of the poon choi dinner was to make students feel as if they were home.


He recalled, “When we were planning activities for the club, we realized that Chinese New Year was coming soon, and new students [from Hong Kong] had arrived too. So we came up with the idea of having poon choi, to bring all of us together and unify us.”

 

Besides Chinese attendees, Hyrum Castro, a Filipino freshman majoring in business management, said he felt that “everyone was connected to each other during the celebration. “I like that they invited [people from different countries] to come and celebrate Chinese New Year. My fiancée is from Hong Kong, and it’s my first time to celebrate Chinese New Year.”

The China and Taiwan Club
The second day of the year according to the Chinese calendar, the China and Taiwan Club conducted a combined celebration for Chinese New Year, and a singing contest was held throughout the dinner on Feb. 17 at Aloha Center Room 155.

 

Food is an important part of their celebration of Chinese New Year as well. While the Hong Kong Club had poon choi, the Taiwan and China clubs prepared traditional Chinese dishes, such as mapo tofu, white cut chicken, and fried noodles.


Similar to Hong Kong students who ate poon choi together, it means much the same for students from Taiwan and China to gather together and have dinner as a family.


Despite the slight differences between the ways people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China celebrate Chinese New Year, they all share the same spirit - to make celebration activities exciting and joyful.


With the Chinese food, music, and enthusiasm in the room, although there wasn’t the traditional burning of firecrackers, lion dance, or dragon dance during the activity, the singing contest still created a similar atmosphere of passion for the festival.


Katelyn Liu, a freshman majoring in elementary education from China, expressed the joy she felt in the activity. “It’s not like a very formal event. The event holders and hosts are not professional...we felt even more relaxed and more at home.”


Hannah Weng, a Taiwanese freshman majoring in hospitality and tourism management, said, “If [the clubs] didn’t have this activity, we’d have nothing for this Chinese New Year [here in America].”


Tingju Liu, a sophomore from Taiwan studying social work, who is the vice president of the Taiwan Club, said it was not the first time the China and Taiwan clubs combined their New Year’s activity together. “It’s a chance for us to learn how to cooperate with other clubs, and it’s good to have members of the China Club here. The atmosphere becomes a lot more passionate because of their presence. They know how to interact with others and they are willing to be engaged in activities.”


Jason Ma, the president of the China Club, and a freshman from China majoring in accounting, expressed his gratitude for the Taiwan Club. “All of us worked hard, and everyone was looking forward to the coming of Chinese New Year. Members of the Taiwan Club are very friendly. Since we share similar traditions, it’s good that we get to share our common festival together.”


Not only students from China and Taiwan, but also returned Chinese-speaking missionaries and students from other Asian countries, participated in this activity. JunHee Kim, a sophomore from Korea majoring in TESOL, said, “It was kind of loud to me but still happy. Of course if it’s silent, there is no happiness.”


As a Korean, Kim commented on the differences between how Koreans and Chinese celebrate New Years. “We also gather as a family, but what we do is put pictures of our ancestors or paper written with their names on the table. Then we cook food for them, light incense sticks, and bow to them.


“Our ceremony [for ancestors] was originally from China, but now, Chinese people focus on spending time with their families.”

Date Published: 
Saturday, March 10, 2018
Last Edited: 
Saturday, March 10, 2018