While couples were swooning all over each other with chocolates and expensive dinner dates, students taking Chinese celebrated the end of Chinese New Year Friday on the Tempe Campus.
Students from various levels of Chinese performed skits, recited poems and sang songs as they said goodbye to the year of the snake and welcomed the year of the horse.
The Confucius Institute, the Chinese Language Flagship and the School of International Letters and Cultures hosted the event.
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is a major Chinese holiday that is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. The two-week celebration began Jan. 31 and will end Feb. 15.
Chinese New Year follows a 12-year cycle in which each year represents a different animal, and 2014 is the year of the horse. The spirit of the horse is energetic, bright and warm-hearted.
Legend has it that during the ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came and Buddha named a year after each one. He proclaimed that people born in the year of each animal would share their personality traits.
Before the performances, audience members and participants could solve Chinese riddles for prizes. Each riddle varied in difficulty, catering to students of different levels.
Student demonstrated creativity in their performances, alluding to pop culture in their acts.
Chemical engineering junior Winny Lau was part of a group that sang the song “What Does the Fox Say?” in Chinese.
“We knew that one group was going to perform ‘Let it Go’ in Chinese and it inspired us to do this,” she said. “We actually found the dubbed version online.”
Lau’s group added their own creative touch to the song. During the course, instead of singing, “Ring-ding-ding-dingeding,” they sang, “Gong xi fa cai,” which means to wish someone a prosperous year.
Gong xi fa cai is a phrase used often during Chinese New Year. A common response would be, “Hong bao na lai,” which translates to “Red envelopes please.” Giving red envelopes with money to children is one of the many traditions embraced during the spring festival.
Performances also included references to Chinese pop culture. One class sang the song, “Dui mian de nu hai kan guo lai,” by famous Taiwanese singer, Richie Ren. The title of the song translates into “Girl across the corner, look over here” in English.
Asian languages senior Emrie Tomaiko said she has participated in this celebration every year since she found out about it. She performed in a skit about the assassin Jing Ke.
“It is a story about an assassin who as been ordered to kill the King of Qin,” she said. “The film ‘Hero‘ is sort of an exaggerated adaptation of it.”
Asian languages senior Carlos Penuelas was also part of the skit. He said part of the challenge of preparing for the celebration was working on a tight deadline.
“We were sort of given only a few days notice and told, “Jia you” (do your best),” he said.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @kelciegrega