By Phillip Davis
On Friday, February 12, the Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding (OCCU) hosted a Lunar New Year celebration in the Women’s Center. The party, honoring the significant East and South Asian holiday was catered by Shan’s Chinese Buffet.
Simba Chakanyuka (C’18) introduced the event, explaining that the evening would celebrate the beginning of the year of the Fire Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac, a year associated with ambition, adventure, and “sometimes” irritability.
Expressing his hopes that the event would lead to fun cross-cultural conversation, Chakanyuka then introduced Shailin O’Connell (C’17), who directed a fashion show displaying East Asian clothes from countries including Burma, Bangladesh, and Japan. She explained the different fabrics and social significance held by each article of clothing, which to the unexamined may have all appeared more or less similar. For example, what may appear to be the classic kimono was in fact a yukata, a garment traditionally made of cotton instead of another fabric called tan.
Following the fashion show, Xu Huiqi (C’17) performed a choreographed martial arts routine to classical Chinese music using a straight sword and his outstretched fingers. The piece, though apparently serene, uses moves made in actual combat. Martial arts is an important part of high culture in East Asian culture.
Shane Xu (C’19), a Chinese student, describing how he celebrates the Lunar New Year with his family, said it involves a big dinner with friends and family, “kind of like Thanksgiving.” Because of the holiday’s popularity, he reports, restaurants get booked out far in advance. Children remember it fondly because they are typically gifted a lot of money. “It was the best part of the year, at least from my childhood,” Shane comments.
The event then transitioned into a casual dinner and conversation.