Grace Pryor, Contributing Writer
Last Saturday, the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) kicked off the Year of the Rabbit in style. Held in Knowlton Commons, the occasion celebrated the Chinese New Year. CSSA collaborated with the College’s Chinese department, the Wooster Mennonite Church and the Wooster Christian Fellowship in hosting the event. Knowlton was decked out in red and gold lanterns and banners as students and community members spent the evening eating, playing games and learning about Chinese culture.
Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, marks the start of the new year in the lunisolar traditional Chinese calendar. This is in contrast with the solar Gregorian calendar used in the United States, which is why the Lunar New Year does not coincide with January first. Additionally, each year in the Chinese calendar is associated with one of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac, and this weekend began the Year of the Rabbit.
Eric Jia ’24, the CSSA president, considered the evening “very successful,” mentioning that the number of attendees had far exceeded expectations. Over 200 students and members of the community came out to celebrate, and all the tables were full, even with an adjacent classroom opened for additional room.
Delicious Chinese food was ordered in from China Garden, including dumplings, which are a traditional sign of wealth and fortune in the upcoming year. There were small mandarin oranges as well, meant to usher in good luck and prosperity. Soft drinks, water and different varieties of green and oolong tea were also available to drink. Though the CSSA sent out a spreadsheet to ensure that enough food was purchased, there ended up being so many attendees that food ran out rather quickly.
Even after the food was finished, the atmosphere stayed lively as students played traditional Chinese games like Go and Mahjong on tables around the room. Other activities included a ring toss for prizes of packaged Chinese snack food, like ramen and White Rabbit candy. At another table, attendees were taught some basic Chinese calligraphy and drew their own celebratory banners using thick brushes and ink on red, patterned pieces of paper. The calligraphic characters on the banners all pertained to the start of a new year. For those who were not artistically inclined, there was also an option to draw a rabbit instead. Nalini Grover ’26 enjoyed the activity, especially learning about calligraphy’s “symbolic value” and the fact that she was able to keep her banner as a souvenir.
A fun secret during the evening was that when someone wished the volunteers at the calligraphy table a happy new year in Mandarin (xīn nián kuài lè), they would receive a small red and gold envelope with a chocolate coin inside. This is reminiscent of the cultural tradition of hóngbāo in China, which entails giving a red envelope with money in it to friends, family and children for the Lunar New Year.
Inside the classroom next door was another connection to Chinese culture, as videos of Chinese New Year celebrations played on the projector. Although the elaborate feats of grace and athleticism were not in person, Ruhee Mehta ’26 still mentioned that it “was very cool to see the acrobatics play out on screen.”
Though it only lasted for three hours, the way that the campus flocked to Knowlton for the celebration seems to suggest good fortune for the Year of the Rabbit ahead of us. Xīn nián kuài lè, everyone!