A giant papier-mache dragon weaved its way around tables, bringing smiles to children’s faces to start off the 2018 Chinese New Year celebration.
People of various ages and backgrounds filled Baker Ballroom to celebrate the Year of the Dog and enjoy performances by Athens residents and Ohio University students.
The event began with a video on the history of the celebration. A terrible creature named “Nian” would raid the villagers of China, taking away their grain and sometimes their children, until an old man chased the creature away. The old man told the people all the things Nian did not like to keep it away, including the color red and loud noises.
Ever since, people who celebrate the Chinese New Year would hang red decorations in their homes and fill the the streets with loud music and fireworks every year to show that they have overcome Nian.
Cindy Wang, a freshman studying visual communication, attended the event to support one of her friends who performed.
“I was excited when my friend told me she was going to be dancing at the celebration,” Wang said. “It was by far my favorite part of the evening.”
Suzy Zhang, a freshman studying visual communication, is part of the Chinese Learners Association and said she was glad she could participate in her first Chinese New Year celebration at OU.
“I really enjoy dancing, so getting to perform in front of such a huge crowd was awesome,” Zhang said.
It was Zhang’s first time performing a group dance in front of an audience, and she felt a little nervous.
“As I walked up on the stage, my legs were shaking,” she said. “But after getting up there and hearing the music start, I was able to get a lot more comfortable and relaxed.”
There were many other performances to celebrate the new year, including a lute and piano solo that captured the traditional aspect of Chinese music, as well as many singing performances by groups of children and adults alike. One of the more popular performances was the magic show by Tony Yao.
Usman Suerkulov, a sophomore studying pre-medicine, found the magic show to be the most interesting performance.
“The guy that had all the card tricks was pretty good,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting a magician to be a part of this kind of celebration, but I’m glad he was included.”
To end the gala part of the evening, all the performers returned to the stage and sang a song to wish everyone a happy new year. Once food was served at the tables, people had a variety of dishes, including dumplings and spicy tofu, to choose from.
“It’s really nice that local Chinese restaurants would donate all of this food,” Wang said. “I think that just shows what an amazing and supporting community we have here in Athens.”
Chinese New Year is Friday, and Wang is looking forward to going home to Coshocton over the weekend to celebrate the new year with her family.
“I’m excited to see all of my family and eat a lot of food,” she said. “Even though I can’t wait for the actual celebration with my family, getting to celebrate it here at OU with my friends was really nice.”