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Xīnnián hǎo and Happy Chinese New Year!
It’s the Year of the Pig, which is just one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. To mark the occasion, Wenona celebrated with lanterns, calligraphy and dumplings...thanks to Joyce in Year 8's grandma, who delivered hundreds of delicious dumplings to our boarders!
In Assembly this week, Chinese students Jill, Kate and Karoy presented on the origins of Chinese New Year, which are thousands of years old and steeped in legend.
Karoy said, “Like Christmas in Western countries, Chinese New Year, is the most important festival in China. The Chinese word for Year is ‘Nian’. However, in ancient China, ‘Nian’ was the name for a monster that came annually to destroy people’s houses and eat them.”
She explained that, according to legend, villagers hung red garlands from their homes and set off firecrackers to scare ‘Nian’ away. This has led to the modern tradition of people decorating their homes, streets and offices with red lanterns during Chinese New Year to bring good fortune and ward off bad luck.
This week, Wenona has been a riot of colour, with pillar-box red lanterns adorning the grounds, hopefully bringing a little taste of home for some of our overseas students at a time when being away from family can be particularly hard.
Jill then spoke about ‘Chun Yun’ or the Spring Festival, a time when people from across China return home to be reunited with their families. “People that work in distant cities have to travel a long way from the city to the country. Almost every area in China has their own traditional food, and this is called ‘Jia Wei’, which means ‘the taste of home’. Travellers often take traditional food when they leave home, to comfort and support them when they feel homesick.”
Kate then spoke about Chinese calligraphy, the elegant art of writing Chinese characters with a brush, and the tradition of writing meaningful couplets of poetry or auspicious sayings during the festive season. To celebrate Chinese New Year, the students came together at lunchtime on Monday and had great fun inscribing red paper scrolls, which they hung around the School.
Of course, no Chinese New Year celebration would be complete without the traditional dancing. Dragons are a symbol of China's culture, and they are believed to bring good luck to people, therefore the longer the dragon in the dance, the more luck it will bring to the community. According to traditional Chinese beliefs, the lion is a symbol of courage and the lion dance is performed at the beginning of the Lunar Year to drive away evil spirits. This year, Wenona will be holding traditional Chinese dances at recess on Monday 25 February. Bad spirits beware!
A huge thank you to Jill, Kate and Karoy for sharing their knowledge!
Gǒunián jíxiáng everyone!