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Miami’s Confucius Institute to celebrate Chinese New Year

By Rebecca Huff, For The Miami Student

It is the Chinese New Year; the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram. In honor of the event, the Confucius Institute Miami University (CIMU) is hosting a celebration from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 18 at McGuffey Hall Room 126.

There will be various Chinese games, snacks and cultural booths with the theme of art and paper.

The booths will comprise of the Chinese technique, woodblock printing, which is used to print large texts, patterns and images.

There will also be a lesson on paper folding and a conversation about the meaning of the Chinese zodiac animals.

"I wish more people would come, not specifically Chinese; have other people come to experience the culture," psychology and entrepreneur student Ying Liang said. "It's a really big celebration in China."

While the Chinese acknowledge the Western form of the New Year beginning in January, the traditional celebrations do not start until February.

This has to do with the lunar-solar calendar, comprised of 12 zodiac signs. Each New Year represents a new sign such as the dog, monkey, and horse, among others.

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a family oriented event. Businesses slow down and it becomes a day to honor the household and heavenly gods and goddesses as well as the ancestors.

During the night of New Year's Eve a huge feast occurs. In northern China the traditional dish is dumplings, while in southern China the traditional dish is a cake made of rice flour, or niangao.

"A lot of these international students, especially Chinese students can't go home for this dinner," associate director of CIMU and host of the Chinese New Year celebration Leng Hui said. "It's very sad for the parents and very sad for their children as well."

Unlike American dinners where the meals are organized by course, during this feast all the plates of food come out at once and are arranged on a Lazy Suzan.

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"The meal is called in English 'family reunion' but the reunion in the Chinese sense suggests a wholeness, suggests a full circle, suggests a perfectness, suggests this endlessness," Hui said.

CIMU is an outreach program that promotes the study of Chinese language, culture, philosophy, and furthers the understanding of China today.

CIMU has hosted a Chinese New Year party since 2007 when it was founded.

In fact CIMU is the first institute in Ohio that corresponds with Haban, which is a branch of the Ministry of Education in China.

Haban stands for Chinese teaching office, it's the headquarters of all 500 Confucius Institutes worldwide.

According to Haban's national website, its goal is to "contribute to the development of multiculturalism and the building of a harmonious world."

Because of the demand for wanting to learn about the Chinese culture and language, Miami now offers three Chinese classes for the staff and two cultural classes.

The free event is open to Miami staff, faculty, students and Oxford residents.