Chinese Lunar New Year Festival flourishes

On the evening of February 26, Portland State’s Hong Kong Student Association celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival for the third time in Smith Memorial Student Union.

The Chinese New Year “is a widely celebrated festival in Hong Kong,” said Annie Lai, HKSA Secretary. Their mission is to keep the Chinese tradition alive here at PSU by continuing to practice their customs.

According to Lai, the traditional Lunar New Year Festival in China actually lasts for about 15 days and celebrates family and friends, gives people a chance to honor the Gods, and represents good luck and fortune. The celebration essentially provides “a clean start” Lai explained, as people transition from the old year to the new one.

The event nearly filled the room with audience members and volunteers, many of which came from the Vietnamese Student Association. The show included various acts of entertainment—both modern and traditional—as well as a raffle.

Audience members were welcomed into the room with an applause by event volunteers at the entrance doors. Traditional decorations of red and gold covered the room while modern Chinese pop music blasted from the stereos.

The “Wishing Tree” is a common part of the Chinese Lunar New Year Festival tradition. In the corner of the room stood the makeshift Wishing Tree that allowed students to write their wishes on a slip of paper and tape it on a string to hang in hopes that it will come true in the new year.

In Hong Kong, the wishes are “attached to oranges and thrown into a real tree,” explained Sally Veunnasack, a HKSA volunteer. People write out their wishes on slips of paper and attach them to a string, but instead of placing it in to the tree, they throw their wish into the tree attached to a mandarin orange. The important thing to remember is to “not read other people’s wishes,” Veunnasack stated.

While waiting for the show to begin VSA officer Thi Nguyen said that she “came to see what other organizations are up to.” Having recently celebrated their own New Year Festival, she was happy for the strong support for different Asian clubs to share their culture.

Another PSU student, Beth Roth, decided to return after seeing it for the first time last year. “This event provided a chance for me to see some Chinese traditions I couldn’t have seen otherwise.”

The performances included a mixture of traditional and modern entertainment.

Once the show began, YouTube singer, Hana Kim took the stage, as well as ended the show. Other contemporary performances included the International Band: Hongkongese Group, a dance by the HKSA Officers, and a performance by the PSU Hip Hop Association.

The Lee’s Association of Portland presented a traditional Lion Dance. The Lion Dance “represents luck and fortune for people,” announced host and PR Officer for HKSA, Tiffany Choi. Based off of mythological dragons, a rare sighting of the Lion Dance brings people good luck. This dance is typically performed in many Chinese festivals. They also presented different Kung-Fu styles that included routines set to a drum beat with a staff, spear and tiger fork.

The line-up also included a traditional “Chinese Ribbon Dance” performed by the Sunflower Dance Troupe accompanied by a number by the name of, “The Joy of Spring.”

We just hope that “people can have a little taste of how festive and fun it is during Lunar New Year’s because it is such a widely celebrated holiday in Hong Kong,” Lai stated.

Mission accomplished.