Xīnniánkuàilè! (Happy New Year!)

DSC_1799 The Year of the Horse started off with a virtual “bang”—imagine fireworks—at the Lower School on January 31. In honor of Lunar New Year, celebrated by Asian countries including China, Japan, and Korea, the school’s weekly assembly focused on traditional dances and festivities.

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The Multi-Purpose Room was lavishly decorated with banners and Chinese lanterns, and the fifth grade class entered the space with the girls costumed and flourishing fans, and the boys dressed in the regalia of lion dancers. Accompanied by music and drums, they circled the audience of students, teachers, and a few parents several times. Mandarin Teacher Kera Shen explained to the group that the lion was important to the new year because he scared away bad spirits, so that everyone could have a fresh start to the year. She also told the students that in her native China, the new year celebrations focus on gathering family and eating lots of delicious and special food.

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To reinforce those ideas, and to share information about new year celebrations in China, the sixth grade class then presented several PowerPoints. In a presentation about traditions, the group learned more about the lion dance, as well as the practices of shooting off fireworks, wearing new clothes, cleaning house, and receiving hongbao—red packets, or envelopes, filled with money, both chocolate and real. The next group addressed traditional crafts, showing how to make hongbao and paper lanterns. Finally, there was a presentation about the types of food eaten for the new year, including dumplings, rice cakes, and fish.

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Following the presentations, the fifth graders returned to the stage for longer dance performances, with more elaborate choreography from both the fan dancers and the lion dancers. Next, Kera led the students in singing a song with the chorus “gong xi”—a way to wish others luck in the new year. Finally, three Chinese students from the Upper School—Ken Yang, Brian Zhou, and Olivia Fan—spoke with the students and answered questions about the way they celebrated Chinese New Year.

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At the Upper School Café, students joined World Languages and Literature teachers to make authentic spring rolls to share with the Ross community. All together, it was a festive and educational way to usher in a new season!

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