Monday, 3 February 2014

Birkbeck celebrates Chinese New Year

On Friday night, Birkbeck students at Malet place were welcomed by members from the Chinese society into a loud room filled with people who were curious about the celebration of Chinese New Year.

There were red paper decorations and lanterns hanging from the ceiling with a friendly atmosphere of various activities taking place. On one side of the room there were students getting their hands dirty in flour and vegetable corn filling, learning how to make Chinese dumplings for the first time. Next to them was a Chinese calligraphy section where others were taught the stroke order for writing the characters for ‘horse’ and ‘fortune.’  Another section was dedicated to the art of paper cutting (jianzhi) and on the right was the drinking corner, for those who appreciate Chinese alcohol. Tsingtao was in abundance and some took to the Chinese spirits better than others. There were spring rolls and pancakes available too, so that everyone was fully immersed in Chinese culture. At 9pm, the grand finale took place with the ‘Imperial College London Dance Team’ performing a Chinese Lion Dance. This was a spectacular performance of exuberant colours from two boisterous and skilful lions with Chinese acoustics and vibrant drums in the background.

This occasion was to mark the year of the ‘Wooden Horse’ according to the Chinese zodiac, based on a twelve-year cycle. If you were born on 1966, 1978 or 1990, your zodiac sign was the ‘Horse,’ which meant that 2014 would be a year of conflict but, conversely, many positive surprises as well.  Those born in the year of the ‘Horse’ were described as fast, energetic, and animated. Based on Chinese astrology, they thrive in social surroundings but enjoy being free and independent as well. In addition, they are competitive and, like horses, are heroic and victorious in battle. They move fast from one destination to the next, coupled with their ability to think quickly and make decisions on the go. 

The president of the Chinese Society, Zheng Chia said: “This year is the coming of the ‘Horse’, which, will bring a lot of success to 2014.” His vice president, Yibing Sun said: “the ‘Horse’ is strong and powerful, which is why 2014 shall also be a strong and powerful year for everyone.” Sarah Whitaker from Birbeck’s International Office helped organise the event in collaboration with the Chinese Society and partner university, the Beijing Institute. She said: “This is a great event taking place during International Week, and is the first time Birkbeck is celebrating Chinese New Year ever.”

Birkbeck is an international hub of interesting students who want to learn about other cultures which is something this event has clearly highlighted. The year of the ‘Horse’ is about galloping towards a prosperous 2014. In work and play, Chinese students will look at this ‘Horse,’ as a symbol of luck, for examinations and essays, perhaps, but let us hope it gives Birkbeck societies encouragement to organise more fun events just like these. 


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