Reflection on New Year Events

This is part of Week 2 co-curricular event follow-up work! Write a short Blog Entry (about 200 words no more than 400) to share your experience on one or more of the events you attend this week. Your reflection comments could be expressions of your observations, thoughts and feelings.

Since your writing is intended to be a blog entry, you are welcome to share photos and links! Please post your writing (with links if any) below under Comments, and share your photo(s) via Google Doc with Sun Laoshi at Sun Laoshi, as an admin, can then add your photos into your blog text.

You should attend at least one  (if not ALL) of the following events:

Wednesday, Jan 30, Wyatt Hall 2nd Fl Atrium 
4:00-6:00 Volunteers will set up the New Year Cultural Display, including our traditional Raise the Dragon Kite ritual
Pizza provided; all are welcome to stop by and greet each others
5:00-5:30 Prof Zaixin Hong will join us to do a calligraphy demo and write New Year Couplets (Don’t miss this one!)
6:00-8:00 student calligraphy hands-on workshop in Wyatt 209 (We will write lucky characters on red papers for display)

Thursday, Jan 31, Wyatt Hall Room 101
5:00-6:00 talk by Prof. Rae on “The Rise of Cultural Entrepreneurs in Early Twentieth-Century China”
This talk traces the historical forces that gave rise to a generation of Chinese “cultural entrepreneurs”—businesspeople who risked financial well-being and reputation by investing in multiple cultural enterprises—in the early twentieth century.

Friday, February 1, Wyatt Hall 2nd Fl Atrium
Lunar New Year Celebration
4:30-6:30 Enjoy freshly-baked snacks, view the Cultural Display and learn the art of Chinese Fan painting
5:00-6:00 Teacher Chunman Gissing will do a tea presentation

More info is posted at Asian Studies website:

23 thoughts on “Reflection on New Year Events

  1. I went to the new year couplet painting on Wednesday. It was nice meeting the upper level Chinese students; I had not seen everyone before then. It was cool to see the handmade decorations including the dragon. Handmade decorations like that are one of a kind including the couplets that Prof Zaixin Hong painted. I even got to be a part of the audience participation to hold the couplets which was nice. I did not follow all the historical references Prof Zaixin Hong eluded too, but I was able to recognize how deep the meaning of the matching phrases he created are. It must have taken him a lot of time to make that many connections and make the phrases reflect this year’s animal. I was not able to stay to try calligraphy because I had a Business Leadership Meeting to get to, but the next day I saw the characters on the wall. A lot more decorations went up too; The second floor of Wyatt looked very bright and colorful. Zhang Laoshi explained to me what the slips of paper in the two small dragons’ mouths meant. I remember one said something about letting money flow in. It was fun to attend the painting; it makes me want to learn more about the traditions of the Chinese new year.

  2. My experience at the New Year’s celebrations was extraordinary. I attended the calligraphy workshop on Wednesday. I walked into the room wearing all black to ensure that I wouldn’t get ink on my clothes, ready to get painting. The whole journey of writing characters was incredibly peaceful and meditative. The dreamy Chinese instrumental music in the background carried me away to a happy place as I concentrated on painting the proportions and parts of my character as perfect a I could. There was a point where Zhang Laoshi held my hand and guided the brush strokes with me, and that helped immensely because I got a feel for how I should be painting. Satisfied with my art, I proudly left the workshop with two red papers that my roommate Taylor loved- they are now hanging on my door. Two days later, I attended the special New Years party. I really enjoyed watching Zhang Laoshi and the students do calligraphy on fans. I also loved walking through the cultural exhibit, looking at the artworks and reading the explanations of the art and the New Year’s traditions. When I was growing up, me and my family had a favourite Chinese restaurant called “Changsho”. During the time of Chinese New Year, I would beg my parents to go to Changsho because the owner always gave me and my sisters (and all of the kids) a decorated red envelope with a dollar in it. He’d hang it out with a big smile on his face- it always made me so happy- though the exhibit mentioned that while giving money it should be an even amount of money. All in all, I loved learning and celebrating with the Chinese department and my friends.

  3. I attended the Lunar New Year Celebration on Friday. There were much more people than I expected since it took place in the later part of the day. I also found one of the Spanish professors partaking in fan painting. I highly enjoyed the food offered during the celebration, egg tart and pork buns are some of my favorite foods back in California. I found many of the displays to be quite intriguing, offering me a good amount of insight into Chinese culture. The teapots were especially interesting and I even attempted to pour some water from the pot with a long snout. It was not a difficult endeavor but it did require an amount of control as to not spill water all over the table. The tea presentation was short but fairly engaging and I learned a bit about the culture surrounding tea in Asia. The presenter was an interesting fellow and provided me with some insight into how to handle tea. Samples of tea were also passed out to guests. The tea provided was much more flavorful than the tea I’ve had in Chinese restaurants back at home. The overall experience reminded me a lot of my heritage and as I left, I kinda wanted to visit home during Chinese New Year… mostly for the red pockets.

  4. In Korean culture, we also celebrate the lunar New Year. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences of celebration between Chinese and Korean cultures.
    Chinese New Year’s celebration, in relation to Korean’s, seems to be more festive and have a more celebratory atmosphere. On the other hand, Korea’s celebration is more mellow and relaxed.
    But of course, the access to various food items and snacks is similar in both cultures. While the actual items differ, both cultures seem to enjoy specific food items that almost symbolize the celebration of the lunar New Year.

  5. During my visit last Friday to the Lunar New Year celebration i was impressed with how much had gone into the event! I had planned to go earlier in the week after classes but got held up with homework. 我的老師 and others that helped put it on turned the second level of Wyatt hall into a showcase of different traditions and art focused around the Lunar New Year. Me and my close friend Charlie showed up around 5:00 and met up with other people from are Chinese class. Together we walked around the exhibits and talked about what impressed us. I really enjoyed learning about the Chinese instruments for pouring tea and learning how people would have the tea poured over their shoulders. Charlie really enjoyed eating the different food they had provided for visitors and talking to students in other classes. In all we all had allot of fun coming to the event and we learned something interesting from going. I look forward to next years event and hope that i will get to go for multiple days!

  6. I helped decorating the second floor of Wyatt hall, such as lanterns and dragon kite. It was wonderful opportunity to touch and feel it. I thought it was so fragile that I might break it if I handle it without caring.
    I also attended the presentation by Prof. Rae on “The Rise of Cultural Entrepreneurs in Early Twentieth-Century China”. Although I didn’t understand English some part, I still enjoyed very much. For example, he mentioned that there were some Japanese materials that is translated by a Chinese person. Also, I didn’t know about Han Han, who works in many different fields such as blogger, novelist, car racer, etc. I just started learning Chinese last semester and I am enjoying it very much, not only the language, but also about Chinese culture and so on.
    I wish I could attend the rest of the events, I wanted to go, but I had Japanese class event as well. Chinese New Year is a big event, I hope I can experience it more in the future. I have visited Viet Nam for Tet new year before, it was good as well, but I would like to visit China next time I travel abroad. Since I came here and studied Chinese, I have been more interested in Chinese language and culture.

  7. The celebration of the Lunar New Year at UPS was amazing. It all took place on Friday, February 1st, from 4:30-6:30pm, in the second-floor atrium of Wyatt Hall. After days of preparations, the final event exceeded my expectations. Many students and professors were in attendance, enjoying the Chinese baked goods and learning about Chinese culture. Every person I spoke to was in awe of the handmade decorations and the history behind it all.
    On Wednesday, the preparations began. The dragon kite was hung during an official ceremony, and it was considered good luck if you ran the length of it from tail to snout. Professor Zaixin Hong joined us for a fascinating calligraphy demonstration. He was kind enough to create a special couplet just for the UPS Chinese Department. Afterward, students were able to try their hand at calligraphy by writing lucky Chinese characters on squares of red paper. Out of the many different examples, select ones were chosen to hang for display during the cultural event.
    Friday evening couldn’t come soon enough. I was filled with anticipation for the event, and I wasn’t let down. The atrium was covered in lucky red decorations and the scent of Chinese baked good lingered in the air. The baked pork buns were sticky and sweet, but they melted nicely in your mouth. The egg tarts were amazing, with a delicate and flaky, buttery crust. Professor Zhang led a fan painting activity, with many beautifully painted fans on display. A tea professional came in to give a demonstration on proper tea brewing, pouring, and teaware. There was tea for sampling, perfect to go with your baked goods.
    I had so much fun at the Chinese event. I was able to connect and enjoy it all with friends and professors. It was nice getting to know people (somewhat) outside of the classroom environment. I hope to attend many more Asian studies events in the future. I was so glad to see that this event not only met my expectations but exceeded them too.

  8. I attended the Lunar New Year Celebration on Friday and was able to try the Chinese egg cakes, observe fan painting, view bamboo poem paintings, and learn about China’s long tea history as well its traditions regarding the New Year. There were various tea instruments on display, including an ancient kettle that was used to pour tea over people’s shoulders. One particular aspect that stuck out to me was an embroidered piece of hand-made silk. It contained one hundred Chinese characters portraying the word “fu”, which translates to good fortune. Additionally, I learned about the importance of decoration in Chinese culture. During the New Year, Chinese households buy blooming plants to symbolize rebirth and new growth. Similarly, nuts, dried fruits, and candies are served for their symbolic meaning of joy, happiness, and a long life. Red bean desserts and lotus seeds are popular Chinese delicacies representing fertility and children. Along with Chinese decorations, I learned about the Kitchen God, Zaojun. Before the New Year, Chinese households are cleaned to bid farewell to Zaojun, who is regarded as the guardian of the family hearth. I was also surprised by the amount of time it takes to prepare for the Chinese New Year. Preparation begins a month before New Year’s and includes decorating, buying new clothes, cooking, and traditions such as setting off firecrackers and giving red envelopes full of money. Chinese New Year is a widely celebrated holiday, and it is special that our school is able to host an event to participate and spread cultural awareness. I enjoyed learning more about China’s tea history and the underlying traditions of the New Year. I look forward to attending more events like this in the future!

  9. I attended the couplet/calligraphy session on Wednesday as well as the Lunar New Year celebration on Friday. I wasn’t able to stay for much of the celebration on Friday due to conflict with another event but watching Professor Hong write the couplets and explain the stories behind each character and sentence was amazing. It’s surprising how much history and knowledge he can put into just 7 characters and to also make them relate to 2 other sentences in only 4-7 characters. I learned quite a bit about the meaning behind Spring and its relation to the boar this year. I’ve never felt as in touch with my heritage as this past week. In my family, we say Happy New Year, and have dinner together but other than that, I didn’t really know about the calligraphy placement and how the character for luck is meant to be placed upside down on doors/walls. I also didn’t know much about the history of Lunar New Year; to me, it was just a holiday that my family celebrated because we are Chinese. I thoroughly enjoyed partaking in this year’s festivities because of all the people I saw participating. I’m looking forward to future celebrations here at Puget Sound.

  10. I enjoyed the New Years acknowledgments that took place this week thoroughly. The sense of community that I felt with other students and teachers reminded me of home and brought a smile to my face. This coming together of people with a shared interest is important and I value it a lot. I believe that it is important because of what we may, as students, be able to learn from each other in these spaces that are not “class” like the classes we have every day. Spending relaxed time with the people that I go to class with adds another layer to friendships.
    It was also fun for me to meet with 張老師 this week and talk about the Chinese New Year, the food I ate while I was in Kunming at this time last year, and other special traditions upheld by family across China during this time of the year. I am excited to spend more time talking with 張老師 and other, upper-level students in the activity credit that I have signed up for. I am hoping that this will allow me to feel more comfortable conversing in Chinese. A new class for the New Year!
    Our calligraphy exercises were relaxing and I feel excited to pursue this medium more. It feels meditative and productive. The attention to detail that I believe was required to create an accurate and pleasing character allowed me to focus on one thing and take some time to enter a space in which I could just breathe and paint.

  11. On Wednesday, Jan 30, I attended the first day of the Chinese New Year celebration, and saw Professor Zaixin Hong present a calligraphy demo and write New Year Couplets. His cuplets focused on the coming of the spring season, reflecting on the fall season, and looking forward to the summer time. I was also able to practice character writing in the student calligraphy hands-on workshop, where we were able to write lucky characters on red papers for display. I thoroughly enjoyed this day because it was interactive and I got to write my own lucky letters, as well as being reminded of the Chinese New Year traditions. Back home, my family and I hung cuplets on our doors every year and it was interesting to find out the history and true meaning of these cuplets, as well as see Professor Zaixin Hong come up with his own. On Friday, February 1, we snacked on freshly-baked egg tarts and barbecue pork buns. Just being able to eat these pastries reminded me of back home, where we have a bunch of Chinese bakeries, that have been family owned, and are prominent to our culture. In addition to eating egg tarts and barbecue pork buns, I was able to view the Cultural Display of cuplets and lucky characters and learn the art of Chinese Fan painting. This was very interesting to me because there was information presented on the history of fan painting, as well as seeing people create their own. Overall, attending the Chinese New Year celebrations broadened my knowledge of the traditions of the Chinese New Year, and reminded myself of my roots and culture.

  12. On Friday I attended my first Chinese New Year Celebration. Before the event started, I volunteered to set up the table and display items. I got to unwrap and hold some of the teapots, which was nice because I love ceramics. Though I didn’t get to see what kind of tea pot it was, one of my favorite was a light blue palm-sized one. Later on during the event, I also got to try pouring water from a long-spouted Sichuan teapot. I was surprised at how difficult it was to steady the stream of water even from a couple inches above the cup. One of the students was also giving tasting sessions of tea. I got to taste a pu’er, which was amazing. The taste was so gentle and soothing. I also made a fan with Zhang Laoshi. She helped me paint letters and decorate my fan, which I now have displayed on my bookcase. One of the new characters I learned that night was 福 fú ,which means happiness/good fortune. I learned that it is common for people to display this character upside down on their doors, since the word for ‘upside down’ sounds like the word for ‘here’; therefore, an upside down 福 means that fortune is here. Right next to the fan painting, there was the altar with famous poems and red envelopes displayed on the wall. There were fruits and gold ingots on the altar, and posters of doors gods on either side of the entryway, which reminded me of the animated film we watched last semester. Also, the food at the event was delicious. I got to try a pork bun and egg tart. Out of the two, my favorite was the pork buns; they were both sweet and savory. Probably the nicest aspect of the festival, though, was that there were so many people present. With all the work put into this event, during this week alone, it was nice to see everyone come and celebrate together. It reminded me a lot of holidays at my grandparent’s house growing up. There were always a lot of food and decorations and people enjoying themselves doing various activities. It was nice to feel the school community come together for this celebration as some sort of family.

  13. 孔峻連
    I attended the couplet painting by Hong Laoshi as well as the calligraphy workshop that followed. To start, I would like to say that watching calligraphy done by someone experienced was amazing in and of itself. The quick, but elegant strokes made each character unique and beautiful, based on the style of the artist. Then, getting a brief introduction into the poetry of the couplets, I found that they had quite a lot of depth. The personally written/custom couplets (ie not the ones found in stores) usually contain brand new messages wishing benevolence for the new year, following a very nuanced rhyme scheme. The little space for characters requires each character to be significant in the elegance of sound, appearance, and meaning.
    The calligraphy workshop was also a blast. It became meditative after a certain point of performing each stroke of a single character dozens of times, each time being different from the last. It was a very interesting experience!

  14. I helped set up the decorations on Thursday and was able to make it to the first part of the event Friday evening, and while I was not able to make it to Wednesday’s calligraphy workshop, it was still fun to see everyone’s final products and hang them on the walls! One of the interesting thoughts that I had Friday while reading the various informational papers was how Mandarin as a language assigns meaning and cultural significance to different objects and concepts. For example, if I remember correctly, bats are considered lucky animals in Chinese culture, rather differently than in most western European traditions, because the word for bat in Mandarin is very close to the word for luck (fu I believe). There were plenty of examples of this, and it felt as though everything was richly layered in symbolism either due to how close they sounded to something conceived as good. Another example (if I remember correctly) was how dumplings resemble old coins, and as such as considered good presents during the new year because they resemble wealth. All in all, I had a great time at the celebration, and I particularly liked trying the teas!

  15. I was able to make the Wednesday and Friday sessions, although my favorite would have to be the calligraphy workshop on Wednesday night. My handwriting has always been mediocre at best, but I figured I would try my hand at calligraphy just to see what I could do.

    Watching Hong-laoshi write his couplets was really impressive, of course. I wasn’t able to read a few of the characters on the couplets, but I was in awe with how quickly he could write the words and still make them look aesthetically pleasing– I’m certainly jealous. When I tried to write quickly in the workshop, I had to throw away the paper because my handwriting was illegible.

    Unfortunately, I missed the Thursday lecture, but I was able to attend Friday’s final event. I didn’t really care for the pork buns (the bread was sweet and delicious, but I’m just not a big fan of pork), but I was happy to see friends from tea club (and their tea). Zhang laoshi and I both got to spend a lot of time (and ink) on fans and calligraphy again, and I think I made one or two decent character posters!

    Overall, it was a really fun event and I’m glad I was able to attend and help set up. It’s made me eager to experience festivals in Taiwan proper.

  16. The Lunar New Year celebration on Friday was a very fulfilling experience for me. My family celebrates the Lunar New Year but unfortunately, the spring semester had started before Lunar New Year. Every year my family makes a feast for the Lunar New Year. New years dinner usually consisted of many traditional Lunar New Year foods such as a whole roasted pig, Nian Gao, and Hainan chicken just to name my favorites. While the food at last Friday’s event was not the same as my usual Lunar New Year meal, I was glad to have some authentic Chinese pork buns for the first time in a while. Having quality Chinese cuisine at the event reminded me of my past Lunar New Year celebrations. This is the first year that I have missed Lunar New Year with my family so I was happy to find that there would be a celebration here at Puget Sound. I felt that the event was well planned and well executed. The decorations were spot on for the Lunar New Year. Normally, I would have eaten with my family, prayed to my ancestors, and bought some fireworks in Chinatown, but the event here at school was more than enough to fulfill my needs for the Lunar New Year.

  17. The Lunar New Year Celebration was a great way to end my work week. I agree that the Chinese events on campus serve the best free food! The pork bun and egg tart were simply incredible. The tea presentation by teacher Chunman Gissing was also really cool to learn about. I thought the tea pot made for filling a cup from a far distance was very unique. Teacher Chunman Gissing mentioned how that tea pot was very hard to pour from and I believe it. Teacher Chunman Gissing had another station set up where we studied the character for tea. Apparently the character is made up of the radicals for tree, person, and grass. She asked me why I thought the word for tea was made up of those radicals. My friend said it was because a person will go to a tree and make grass out of it and that is the tea. I said it was because a person is small like grass and drinks tea to be tall like a tree. By asking me to think this way teacher Chunman Gissing made me think about the radicals and the way Chinese characters are written. I really enjoyed this celebration and I can’t wait for future ones!

  18. The Lunar New Year Celebration was an extraordinary event I am glad I was able to participate in. When I first stepped into the second-floor atrium, the Cultural Display in the little alcove room immediately caught my eye. The table was decorated with an array of fruits, plants, nuts, and flowers, and in the center a number of candles and gold ingots. A vast collection of art and paintings covered the walls around the table, each unique in representing different aspects of Chinese culture. I immensely enjoyed viewing these different artworks, such as the bamboo stone rubbing and Chinese New Year prints. My favorite artwork would have to be the red envelopes collage because they are a familiar part of my family’s celebration of Chinese New Year. Additionally, it was amazing to see the variety of red envelopes that can be used and learning more about the history behind its use. As I moved into the main atrium, I was fascinated by both the tea and calligraphy section. The different shapes of teapots and ceramic wear, along with their detailed designs, intrigued me and I gained a better understanding of not only different types of tea, but the art of pouring the tea as well. At the calligraphy station, watching fellow students partake in decorating fans made me have a greater appreciation for those who have taken up calligraphy, as it takes not only an extreme amount of detail but also patience. Overall, I had a wonderful time at the Lunar New Year Celebration and I am grateful to have been able to take part in this significant event in my Chinese culture!

  19. I attended the New Year celebration on Friday for a little while. I brought my roommate along with me so that she could see what it was all about. We each had a pork bun and shared an egg tart. Both of these food items were delicious, and we enjoyed them with tea. After that, we walked around the atrium and observed the Chinese couplets and various decorations placed out for the Year of the Pig. I thought the couplets were really cool to look at, especially since we had gone over the meaning in class. The masks, posters, and red and gold decorations all caught my eye and let me see a deeper meaning in Chinese culture. It offered me the opportunity to get to know more about the country and their celebrations, which in turn helped me understand the importance of the New Year to the Chinese. I thought the whole idea of the celebration was interesting, and how it all ended up looking was beautiful and intriguing. I also thought the hanging dragon puppet was really cool! It was fun seeing everyone in the Chinese program in one place, and how the New Year celebrations bring everyone together to celebrate one big thing, whether it be the food or the decorating of the fans or just talking to other people in the program. I wish I had been able to attend all of the events, but because of my schedule this semester, I could not. I was really upset! I am very happy that I got the chance to attend the actual celebration though. It was really enjoyable, and it will be something I will never forget. I will make sure to try my best to attend all of the events next year!

  20. This past week I attended the Lunar New Year Party at the University of Puget Sound. I helped set up the decorations Thursday afternoon, hanging the student’s character strokes, and posters. Eventually when we were finished the hall was absolutely stunning in red and gold with rich historically items placed gently on tables for further decoration. I attended the very next day and brought some of my close friends. I was able to eat some egg tarts talk to other friends in different Mandarin classes and gaze at the posters. I think its very important to hold these types of events to inform people of other cultures and to show respect to people of different cultures. By having these events it gives other people of a minority here at UPS to have a voice and to feel loved and not ignored. I felt very happy at attending this event and sharing it with my friends. It gave us something to bond over and gave me new memories of my time here at UPS. I also feel more informed with how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in Chinese culture. Which in turn I think gives more respect to this event and to this culture because I can now appreciate it since I have more knowledge of what the Lunar New Year is. I can’t wait to make more memories learning Mandarin and sharing them with my fellow classmates.

  21. I attended this year’s Lunar New Year celebration that took place in Wyatt Hall. The second floor was transformed! There were several booths with many learning opportunities. At the tea table, there were facts given out to teach the crowd. This activity was hands-on and led to the introduction of several people. At the calligraphy table, I practiced writing the characters on my paper fan. In the mini museum, I was happy to learn about the meaning of paintings. There are so many stories involved with the Lunar New Year! There was an image of Zhong Kui catching the evil spirit. This represent avoiding calamity and bringing good fortune for the new year. There were also many legends expressing the same stories!

  22. I attended the events on Friday where there was fan making, tea demonstrations, eating, and teapot pouring. For the tea pouring it was kind of like a game, where you tried to pour the tea a high up in the air as you could. I was surprised I was able to get it as high as I did without spilling too much. For food, I tried the barbeque pork buns, which were a little different than what I remembered, but they were very good. A friend and I later went around reading the different captions next to the paintings. When looking at the picture of a hundred children, we did not believe at first that there actually was a 100 boys in the painting so we counted them. Low and behold there actually was a 100 boys. Near the end, that friend and I talked to 老師 about our family history and how interesting it is to know about our Chinese heritage. It was great to talk about it, plus hearing about how 老師’s family and how they were separated after communism rose to power was very interesting. In the end, I helped clean up the area as people started to leave.

    I have always loved Chinese New Year, and not just because I receive 紅包. Living in China was an experience during the new year with the constant firecrackers for months on end, but as a child, I always thought it was so much fun. When we lived in Singapore, it was always the best. My family and I would go to our relatives, family friends, and close friends homes throughout the day to catch up, eat, and celebrate the new year. At the end of the day, there would be a huge firecracker display near the marina being broadcasted on tv. Living in the US my grandparents sometimes would come down or my family would make 餃子 or cook hotpot together to celebrate the new year. The New Year has always been important to me and I am glad that I was able to learn a little more about Chinese culture.

  23. I helped on Wednesday to set up the cultural display. This experience was unique and fun for a few reasons. For starters, even though I had seen some pictures from Chinese New Year’s celebrations before, being a part of the process gave me a stronger attachment to it. Seeing the care with which people handled all of the items going up, hearing Sun Laoshi explain certain traditions of the pieces while hanging them, and also backstory on how some of the art came to be a part of her collection was fascinating. Another way setting up was highly influential to me was because it was my first time hearing mandarin spoken fluently, or semi-fluently, by other students. Knowing that other people have worked their way up a level of understanding was inspiring to me and motivated me to want to strive for more every time I sit down in class. Having the opportunity to interact with upperclassmen or at least higher level Chinese students was truly unique.

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