UTSA celebrates Chinese New Year

The Chinese Student and Scholarship Association held their annual Chinese New Year festival Saturday night. Entire families, including grandparents and young children, came to celebrate the coming of the new year.

Everyone was invited to go in, get something to drink, and visit. There were candy and peanuts on the table for everyone to enjoy before dinner.

Guests were treated to baked chicken, rice noodles (a traditional new year food), broccoli, and steamed rice. After dinner, there were drawings for prizes. Everyone was invited to enter a raffle when they purchased their tickets for the evening.

Over dinner, Dr. Chinn, from the Department of Philosophy, explained how important the food is in Chinese New Year.

Dr. Chinn explained that, in the Chinese language, different words carry different meanings, and so the Chinese New Year meal is based around foods with names that have the same pronunciation as words that mean good luck, prosperity, or growth. Fish is served because it has the same pronunciation as, “every year there is more left over, so you get more every new year.” A food would not be served that had the same pronunciation as death, black, or anything that would bring bad luck.

“You do not want bad luck. You take in the food, and you do not want to take in bad luck,” Chinn said.

The food was not the only good luck offering made to the guests. Omar Quimbaya gave a reading of a poem from, according to Professor Guo, the Tsung Dynasty.

Though there is no official “resolution” ritual in Chinese New Year, the idea is to promote the best for the new year. Both Chinn and Guo agree that, “everything represents our wish to be better than the last year.”

Whether it is expressed in food or ritual, the coming new year is a time of opportunity and prosperity and the hope that everyone will experience continued growth and happiness.

Several celebrations are held around San Antonio, including the Institute of Texan Cultures Asian Festival on Jan. 31. The Golden Wok Chinese Cuisine’s annual Chinese New Year Banquet will also be held that day.