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February 14, 2013

Chinese New Year celebrates family

By Linda Shepard
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Serena Hua and Grace Sun, both 5 and from Troy, create paper lanterns at the OU Oakland Center Chinese New Year Celebration Feb. 7.

ROCHESTER HILLS — When celebrating the New Year, residents of China don’t simply make resolutions.

“It is a time to clean out and sweep up,” said Oakland University professor emeritus Richard Stamps at the OU Oakland Center Feb. 7. “Time to buy new paint, furniture and clothing.”

Stamps said the celebration focuses on family life. “Families talk and tell stories, they play word games, eat candy and spoil grandchildren. In the kitchen — where everything happens — paper images of kitchen gods are hung so the gods will go to heaven and give a report on things and say sweet things about the family.”

Oakland University students, staff and guests celebrated the Chinese New Year culture and traditions with performances, food, games, calligraphy and crafts.

The 15-day long Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar and traditionally ends on the 15th day of the year’s first lunar month.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2013 is the year of the snake. The snake is a deep thinker, wise mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong and constant.

Stamps explained the significance of red envelopes, which are presented at Chinese social and family gatherings. The red symbolizes good luck and aims at warding off evil spirits. Money in the envelope must end with an even digit.

The new year event was sponsored and organized by the OU International Students and Scholars Office, the Center for Multicultural Initiatives, the Asian American Association, the China Club, the Chinese Friendship Association, the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and the International Allies Organization.

Performances by singers, Chinese yo-yo artists, dancers and more entertained the crowd. Performers sported traditional dress and costumes, and young and old tried their hands at calligraphy, paper cutting, paper lantern-making and more.

Victoria Goldwater, 20, is planning to transfer to Oakland University from Macomb Community College next year and enjoyed the performances while waiting for a chance to attempt Chinese brush painting. “Everyone here is having fun,” she said.

“We hope the year of the snake will bring good fortune,” said OU School of Engineering and Computer Science Dean Louay Chamra. “We take pride in our international communities. We share cultures. Together we can create a diverse community.”

Call Staff Writer Linda Shepard at (586) 498-1065.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Linda Shepard at lshepard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1065.