By Kirby Davis, For The Miami Student

This weekend, Miami University’s Confucius Institute will bring a celebration of the Chinese New Year to campus.

The Chinese New Year is considered the nation’s most important holiday, and it’s typically celebrated for 15 days. It is determined by the lunar calendar, and this year happens to be that of the Monkey.

During the holiday, families watch firework displays, eat food such as dumplings and shrimp and grandparents often gift their grandchildren with “lucky money” for the New Year.

The Confucius Institute works to spread the Chinese language and culture throughout the Oxford community. The New Year will officially be observed on Monday, Feb. 8, but the organization has put together a concert for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, in Hall Auditorium.

The concert is sponsored by the Department of Music, the Chinese American Cultural Association, and the Confucius Institute. All of the show’s advance tickets have already been claimed.

In the first part of the show, Miami’s Symphony Orchestra will play Chinese music with the Chinese Classical Music Ensemble, followed by opera singers Mengyun Chen and Zhi Zhu. Junshu Zheng of “The Voice of China” and singer Jason Chen will perform in the second part, as well as the Institute’s Lion Dance club, visiting students from the Ohio State University  and other Miami students.

Ziyi Zhao, a Miami senior and graphic design major who has been involved with the Confucius Institute since last semester, designed the program and posters for the weekend. Zhao said she was most looking forward to Saturday night.

“I think it’s fun,” she said of celebrating the holiday here, rather than home in China. “You have friends, teachers, things like that . . . so you’re not really alone.”

First-year Raven Hao agrees.

“I miss my home very much,” said Hao. “But this helps relieve some of the homesickness.”

This is what the Institute’s director, Chen Zhao, hopes other Chinese students will feel while attending the events as well.

“[It’s] the time for the Chinese student missing home the most, the student looking for the familiar holiday atmosphere,” said Zhao. “I think this concert is a really good opportunity to provide this for them.”

Recognition of the New Year will continue from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8, in MacMillan Hall, Room 212.

As last year’s celebration revolved around paper and its Chinese cultural ties, this year’s will be tea-themed. Members of the Confucius Institute’s Tea Club will perform traditional tea ceremony demonstrations every 30 minutes during the event, and attendees can sample Chinese snacks and seven varieties of tea.

“In China, tea is not just sitting here [for drinking],” said Chen Zhao. “Tea is always related to music and calligraphy, painting, chess.”

Residence halls around campus have also expressed interest in observing the holiday, with at least six planning their own celebrations. The Institute lends decorations and hands out snacks to those wanting to participate.

This is Zhao’s third year working with the organization, which has been preparing for this weekend for nearly six months.
“I will really enjoy seeing American students and Chinese students coming together,” said Zhao. “The students work so hard, regardless of being American or Chinese . . . This kind of happiness celebrating the Chinese New Year is everybody put together to have fun.”