Home for Chinese New Year
How TWU students are celebrating Chinese New Year while far from home.
Traditionally speaking, it is absolutely important for people to be home for Chinese New Year (CNY). The yearly migration of families travelling to be together again is called Chunyun.
It is considered the largest human migration on the planet.
Statistics show that up to 3 million trips are made by vehicle, 440 million by train, 79 million by air, and 45 million by sea for families to reunite. However, this year can be a little different due to COVID travel restrictions. We ask for health and safety for our students and their families.
Celebrating Chinese New Year Abroad
We interviewed current students to learn more about how they celebrate CNY away from home.
Evelyn, in the B.A. Leadership program, will be celebrating CNY with her landlord’s family over a large dinner. She stated,
“I will try to message my friends and family to virtually celebrate with them. I have many friends who also celebrate CNY abroad, and we bond because we know how it feels to be alone during this huge celebration. I have felt cared for by the TWU-R family during my studies here, and I know they will reach out this year.”
She added, “Some of the popular traditions that I miss doing with my family is playing Majang, an old game composed of pieces made of bamboo, bone, or plastic, and watching the New Year’s Eve program on T.V.”
Another current student remembers being abroad last year for CNY. She recalls, “Last year I cooked dumplings for myself and made a video call to my family. I really missed them at that time and felt very lonely.”
TWU estimates that a significant percentage of our students will be celebrating CNY separated from their families. It is our goal to help students feel loved and supported during this large celebration by reaching out to students through a Spring Festival at Lansdowne called “Rock with the Ox” celebration for the year of the ox.
The origin of Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the most important of all traditional Chinese festivals. Its origin can be traced back to 3,500 years ago. In ancient China, there was a beast called Nian (/nyen/) that would show up every year on New Year’s Eve. It is interesting that the “yearly beast” Nian sounds like the word “year” in Chinese. To prevent Nian from harming the people, families would put food at their doors for Nian, until a wise man discovered that Nian was afraid of loud noises and the colour red. Families began putting out red lanterns and red scrolls on their windows and doors to scare off the beast. Crackling bamboo (later replaced by firecrackers) was lit to scare Nian away. These traditions have endured for generations, and today we continue to see them through new year celebrations.
Amy Saya is the Student Life Intern at TWU Richmond. Born in Bogota, Colombia, she has lived in Ontario and in B.C., Canada. She currently lives in Richmond, B.C.
Vera Xiong is the Student Life Coordinator at TWU Richmond. She was born and raised in Yongzhou City, Hunan Province, China. She currently lives in Richmond, B.C.