Elizabeth 3

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in modern China, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the evening proceeding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month. The Chinese New Year usually falls on a different date in either January or February each year due to the moon. The reason is because it marks the start of the lunar new year, which is when there is the start of a new moon. People will eat lots of food, enjoy fireworks, wear special clothes and hang red lanterns to mark the occasion.

Two international UIC faculty members to talk about how they spent their Chinese New Year.

DHSS Foreign Intern, Ms Elizabeth Rodewald

Elizabeth 1

I am from the US and this is my second year in China. I joined UIC as part of their faculty in August 2016, so I have been here for two Chinese New Year celebrations. Last year I spent Chinese New Year in Guangzhou, but this year my friend David Yao, a Year 4 student majoring in Computer Science and Technology, invited me to say farewell to the year of the rooster and welcome the year of the dog with him and his family in Kaifeng in Henan province.

Elizabeth 5

I rode on three high-speed trains to get to Kaifeng and braved huge crowds also travelling back to their hometowns to celebrate the New Year with their families. David’s mother, father, and maternal grandmother kindly welcomed me into their home and immediately started feeding me with local foods and sweets.

On the morning of New Year’s Eve we removed the old door banners that hung outside flanking their apartment door and put up new, crisp ones in their place. On New Year’s Day we ate delicious pork dumplings that were handmade by his mother and grandmother. This day I was also told we could not throw out any trash as to not throw out any luck.

Elizabeth 2

We went to many family lunches and dinners over this time period and I was greeted with warm smiles, open arms, and many red envelopes. I thank David for serving as my interpreter the whole time I was there, I’m not sure if he realized it, but during that time he served as an important bridge between two cultures and I’m very grateful for that.

Elizabeth 6

Although it is not a perfect comparison, I would compare the Chinese New Year to Christmas in the US. Christmas is a time when most people travel back home to celebrate the holiday, to attend a religious service, eat delicious meals, and give gifts to one another, which is similar to Chinese New Year. However, most people are only given 1-2 days off work for Christmas, and it is not as widely celebrated throughout the country since its roots are based in the Christian faith.

Elizabeth 9

I hope to live in China for a few more years, so I am looking forward to celebrating more Chinese New Year’s in different parts of China.

ELC Foreign Intern, Ms Marissa Furney


Marissa 1


My name is Marissa Furney and I am from the US. I have been living in China since September 2017 to work at UICas a foreign intern in the English Language Centre (ELC). This is my first time in China, as well as celebrating Chinese New Year. I previously heard about the custom of giving oranges to family and friends, but honestly, that is all I knew. I could have guessed that family members across China would all come together to celebrate, but other than the oranges, I knew nothing else.

Marissa 2

The family I stayed with during Chinese New Year is from Guangdong (Canton), so a variety of Chinese and Cantonese dishes were often combined when eating. I remember struggling to eat the meat dishes because in the US, we prefer to remove the bones first before we eat it while in China the bones are prepared and served with the meat. We traveled around Zhuhai to visit different family members and eat either lunch or dinner with them. One night, we hopped on shared bikes and rode all the way to Zhuhai’s shell theatre (Grand Theatre). Another day, we went to the Jintai temple and it was absolutely beautiful and breath-taking. I felt so struck with awe that I got lost for a moment, until Faye, one of the family members I was staying with, found me. I followed her after that.

Marissa 3

I wanted to participate in the customs of praying to the Buddha, but I was nervous that I would do something wrong and accidentally disrespect the religion. I also felt a bit out of place – being a foreigner - and I did not want to draw too much unwanted attention to myself. Afterward, we had a delicious lunch that consisted of BBQ goose and oysters and it was so delicious. I learned how to say a few phrases in both Mandarin and Cantonese to greet family members respectfully. One sentence to describe the overall experience of Chinese New Year is that there was a lot of food.

Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He (MPRO)


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