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My Chinese New Year celebration in Durham

The Chinese Lunar New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. It is also referred to as the Spring Festival in China and the celebration usually lasts 15 days from the first day of the new year.

I am an international student from China and for all the Chinese people regardless of where they are, the Spring Festival is a holiday of reunion, family harmony, and peace. Chinese New Year always synonymous with excitement and Chinese people enjoy the lively atmosphere. They would like to share this festival atmosphere with others. That is why my love for the Spring Festival has been in my blood since I was a child. Even though we are far away from our home country, we still try every means to celebrate the new year with friends, by having a New Year reunion dinner, watching Spring Festival Gala, or playing traditional games, or practising our traditional customs.

Before I came to Durham, I spent six years studying in Singapore. Similar to China, the Chinese New Year is also a very grand festival as the majority of the population are Chinese. With many other ethnic groups in the country, the Singapore government encourages people of different races and religions to celebrate the Chinese New Year together. This helps people from different cultural background to better understand each other and in turn, we Chinese also learn their customs in traditional festivals of other ethnic groups. This not only strengthens the cultural exchanges among different ethnic groups but also promotes racial harmony in the multi-cultural society.

As a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) as well as the organiser for the 2019 Asian Food and Culture Festival, I have been actively involved in various activities and events in Durham during last Chinese New Year. This year, I will continue to participate in the Chinese New Year celebration held by the Durham Chinese School at Ushaw College, the Durham City Chinese New Year Celebrations organised by Durham County Council in the Town Hall, and the 2020 Chinese Food and Culture Festival held by CSSA at Durham Students’ Union.

This is the second year that Durham County Council holds Chinese New Year Celebrations. This is a free event and is open to all. We hope this event can provide a great platform for sharing Chinese culture, and also provide an amazing opportunity for people to communicate culturally with a strong festival atmosphere. Durham Town Hall will be hosting a range of activities featuring Chinese themed performances by schools, traditional Chinese music, dance, and a traditional Chinese tea art performance.

Clayport Library will host language taster sessions and storytelling sessions throughout the day. Children can also enjoy creating some Chinese themed arts and crafts to take home. In all the performances and activities, we try to keep the traditional Chinese New Year elements as authentic as possible by posting most of the material from China, we also did some adaptation to make the performance better understood by the local community.

Apart from being participants, Durham students are also involved in the celebration as performers. Many non-Chinese students who are learning Chinese at the university or are interested in the Chinese culture took an active part in the performances and storytelling programs last year. I have also recruited many non-Chinese volunteers from the university for the Chinese traditional costume show this year.

There are also celebrations taking place at The Oriental Museum on Saturday 8th February, for one night only see the Museum lit only by lanterns. Try crafts, sample delicious New Year food and drink and listen to stories.

2020 is the beginning of a new decade and in the Chinese zodiac cycle, the year of the rat is also ranked first. May this brand new year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements and a lot of new inspirations in your life. Happy Chinese New Year!

Yizhuo Ma

Hi! I am Yizhuo, a second-year Education- Sociology student. As an international student from China, I have spent two wonderful years at Durham. I am a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) and a volunteer in the Durham Chinese School. I love doing handicraft, flowers, and all the beautiful things in life.
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