Photos by Oluwatona Campbell|CIGAR “To celebrate this special holiday, members of the URI community and the Confucius Institute gathered together last Sunday to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year.”

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture, as it celebrates the start of a new lunar year.

According to Lauren Buchholz, a recent University of Rhode Island graduate and member of the Confucius Institute in China, the Spring Festival is a time to spend with family and friends, to celebrate wealth, prosperity and good luck for the New Year. Many place spring couplets, red thin-posters around doors and on walls, with the words New Year’s phrases, translated into English, like: “we hope that your wishes will be realized.”  

To celebrate this special holiday, members of the URI community and the Confucius Institute gathered together last Sunday to mark the beginning of the Chinese New Year.

The event was open to the public, and it attracted not only students and faculty, but members of the Chinese community of Southern New England and others interested in Chinese culture.

In attendance was University President, David M. Dooley, who attended Sunday’s event because it “showcases the talent and culture of our University,” while, “acknowledg[ing] culture and history, the importance of Chinese culture.”

Sunday’s event was, what Lecturer of Chinese Quingyu Yang, describes, “one of the two major Chinese holidays.”

The event served traditional Chinese food, from Chicken Lo Mein to boxed chrysanthemum tea, a popular drink in East Asia. In addition to dishes that we are more familiar with to in America, organizers served Nian Gao,  a jelly rice cake eaten during the New Year season.

Along with the food and refreshments, the Confucius Institute provided arts and crafts activities where attendants learned how to write their names in Mandarin and made dogs using the traditional Origami paper-folding.

Frank Jolifier, a ninth-grader from Pawtucket, attended Sunday’s event as a field trip for his Chinese class. Jolifer attended because he, “never been to an event like this… and to learn about Chinese culture.”

The turnout among attendees outside of the University, is an illustration of what Political Science Major and Chinese Flagship Sophomore, Derek Murphy describes as an “event that draw people into the surface level of culture, and will eventually help draw them further in.”

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Dean Riley highlights the importance of events like these as an opportunity for the University to promote its goal of not only, “studying proficiency but cultural understanding.”