Chinese BYU students presented nine unique performances in celebration of the year of the horse, as marked by Chinese New Year, Jan. 31.
The dancing and singing performances were rehearsed since the beginning of January. Joined by special guests from UVU, the students additionally performed comedic and magic numbers. A video was displayed, in which Chinese students expressed how much they miss their families and country. Most of the celebration was presented in the Chinese language.
“Historically, (BYU has) had celebrations for Chinese New Year, but it’s never been this extravagant,” said Yunzuo Cai, a sophomore in accounting who left China 12 years ago. “Tonight’s event will be an opportunity for us to combine the richness of the Chinese history.”
Cindy Cao, president of BYU Chinese Student and Scholar Association, explained that it can be difficult for Chinese students to be away from home during the Chinese New Year season.
“It’s really important for Chinese speakers here at BYU to feel loved and have a sense of belonging,” Cao said. “Chinese New Year is like Christmas for Americans. They are far away from home, they don’t see their parents, they don’t have the regular celebration they were supposed to have, so coming to our event will help them feel that happiness.”
Cai explained that China is a rapidly growing world power. He said BYU’s celebration is a good opportunity to show “the good of Chinese history and culture.”
“There are more and more people who are interested in China. Utah, for example, has the largest Chinese-learning community in the whole United States,” said Peter Chan, faculty advisor of the BYU Chinese Student and Scholar Association. “We have more students learning Chinese here than anywhere else.”
Traditionally on Chinese New Year, families join together to watch a celebration on TV provided by the CCTV (China Central TV), the biggest TV channel in China. They then have a feast of fish, representing surplus; dumplings, representing coming together; and a special cake made of yam and carrots. They play games and exchange red envelopes filled with money. In Taiwan and Hong Kong, the government puts together a massive fireworks show to ring in the new year.
This article provides more information about Chinese New Year’s traditions.