By Hannah Neff
In a series of bows and leaps the lion paraded around the room. But the audience wasn’t frightened, they were delighted. Two men dressed in a vibrant red, black and white lion costume while students, staff and friends welcomed the Chinese New Year with an evening of festivities on Jan. 23. The event was sponsored by the Chinese Student Association (CSA) and the SCAD International Student Services Office (ISSO) and took place at the Student Center.
“It’s really important, because it’s dragon year,” said Brian Lo, the activities coordinator for CSA. “In China, the emperors represent dragon, and dragon represent God.” Of the 12 Chinese zodiac symbols, the dragon is the only magical creature, and is therefore seen as very powerful and lucky.
The color red, which was emphasized by the red atmosphere at the Student Center, also signifies good luck. Chains of crimson paper decorations, yellow lanterns and lights hung about the room while red overhead lighting cast a warm glow on the estimated 500 guests.
Jeff Jones, Director of ISSO, determined the total number of attendance by the 400 plates of food distributed throughout the night. For $6 apiece, guests indulged full plates of authentic Chinese cuisine, such as shredded pork with baby bamboo shoots, fried Chinese eggplant and vegetable sautéed noodles.
Before eating, however, each guest was presented with a red envelope containing money — or, in this case, chocolate coins.
“It’s for the elder in the family to give to the children,” Josie Nie, an animation graduate student from Chengdu China, said about the New Year tradition.
Then, to say goodbye to the Year of the Rabbit, large baskets of “bunny buns” — bread rolls in the shape of rabbits — made their rounds to each table. On cue, everyone took a bite.
“We’re eating the rabbit and welcoming the dragon,” said Rouan Yu, a fourth-year advertising major from Taiwan who helped set up the event.
The feast lasted a while and concluded with fortune cookies.
“The funny thing is it’s not really Chinese tradition. I heard that it’s, like, an American thing. It’s only American; if you go to China you won’t see this,” said Jerry Suh, a second-year animation student who’s originally from Seoul, but resides in Boston.
The fortune cookies may not have been traditional but the lion dance undoubtedly was.Contact Hannah Neff.