Iowa State holds first Chinese New Year celebration


Ken Tsai

Chinese Faculty and Scholars’ Association holds first celebration of Lunar New Year on campus.

The Chinese Faculty and Scholars Association celebrated the Lunar New Year in an event with more than 140 people who gathered for dinner and activities.

Lunar New Year, an important festival in East Asian culture, is a time when family and friends gather to celebrate the start of the new year and share good wishes.

This was the first time the organization put together an event celebrating Lunar New Year. The event was put together in two weeks with the help of volunteers and sponsorship from the vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion, Sharon Perry-Fantini.

“In China, this time of the year, all the people go back to their families, and it’s almost like Thanksgiving,” said Shan Jiang, associate professor in the materials science and engineering department. “You go back home and have a family dinner together. It’s probably the most important dinner of the whole year.”

Huifang Mao, a professor in the marketing department, said people of Chinese descent make up a large portion of the East Asian population on campus, and many cannot be with their families in other states or countries during this time.

“This event allowed them to celebrate the holiday with the big family of ISU Chinese faculty and staff and many other friends on campus,” Mao said.

Blessings are written in calligraphy for the new year. (Ken Tsai)

A tradition that holds significance to Lunar New Year is the reunion dinner where families gather to enjoy dinner on the eve of the holiday, according to Mao.

Mao said, in some parts of East Asia, one of the holiday traditions is to make, cook and eat dumplings together.

“You can buy some dumplings, but it’s very different when you come together and sit down and make dumplings,” Jiang said. “When you are chatting with each other, cooking food and sharing with the family, it’s a very different feeling.”

The event included a trivia session with prizes where members of the Chinese Faculty and Scholars Association prepared questions relating to Chinese tradition and the holiday to ask the audience.

“We had a lot of kids, and they loved the activity,” Jiang said. “Some of them are not even Chinese, and they heard of some of the culture.”

Attendees also participated in a calligraphy activity which Jiang said is a unique tradition in China for the new year.

“Artists put down blessing words on red paper and then you hang them by your door,” Jiang said. “Every family does that and you pick whatever you like, and it means fortune and luck for the new year.”

Jiang said the event was not only about having dinner together, but it was a chance to showcase Chinese culture and have people of different backgrounds join in.

“We would like to build a community, not just within Asian Americans, but also people from all walks of life,” Jiang said. “The celebration is a great opportunity for us to showcase our tradition and help others understand our culture.”