Wetenschap - 14 februari 2002

Chinese celebrate New Year abroad

Chinese celebrate New Year abroad

Last Monday night the Chinese New Year began, leaving behind the year of the Snake and entering the year of the Horse. Most Chinese students in Wageningen called home and had dinner with friends. "Fortunately I have friends here," one MSc student says.

New Year's Eve is called ChuXi in Chinese. Xi is a terrible animal that comes to the world on New Year's Eve and which has to be eliminated (Chu), explains Zhenghong Chen. "Fireworks used to be let off to scare the beast. Now people let them off for good luck." Chen, a PhD student at the Food Chemistry Lab, enjoyed a New Year meal the Friday before New Year's Eve with some friends. "I'm too busy with my research work," Chen explains. "Last Saturday I went to a party at the student cafe in the Rijnsteeg, which I really enjoyed. Usually we have no time to meet. There was also someone with a video camera who taped our messages for our families and they will be broadcast on TV."

Le Chen, PhD student in Agricultural Economics and Rural Policy, cooked some special Chinese food for friends. "A few weeks ago I got a package with food from my parents so I could prepare something nice. Many things you can't buy here, even in Arnhem," she says. She and her friend Zhang Rong called their parents on Monday afternoon to wish them a happy New Year. Rong: "Otherwise I would have been at home with my parents."

Jingyuan Fu received cards with best wishes from her friends in China. "Fortunately I have friends to celebrate New Year's Eve with here as well." She explains that in the northern part of China 'tuntlint' is prepared. This is wheat dough stuffed with meat and vegetables, boiled in water. "New Year is also the start of the spring festival. The festivities actually take fifteen days, and on the last day we have a festival of lights, celebrated at home. This resembles your Christmas, with candles and lights everywhere," says Fu, MSc student in Biotechnology.

The Chinese New Year starts on a different date each year according to the Western calendar. This is because the Chinese use a calendar based on the moon instead of the sun.

China has a twelve year cycle, each year symbolised by a different animal. This year is the year of the Horse, which is supposed to be a lively year. "It should bring success," said Zhenghong Chen.

Yvonne de Hilster

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