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'Time to be with people you love': Wesleyan College celebrates the Lunar New Year

"You get firecrackers, you get the red envelopes, your whole family gives you money --gifts. It's the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese kids," Gan says.

MACON, Ga. — Lanterns, red envelopes, and dumplings, oh my!

Sunday is the beginning of the Lunar New Year– the year of the Rabbit! Many folks who celebrate say it’s the time to bring in the new year, and hope for good fortune and prosperity. 

13WMAZ’s Jessica Cha wore some red, and headed to Wesleyan College to see how they celebrate the new year. 

新年快乐! 恭喜发财.

That means Happy New Year and wishing your loved ones a year of happiness and prosperity! 

Helena Xia is the director of international programs at Wesleyan College, but also works as the project manager for the Confucius Institute.

"We’re an organization to provide American people with the great opportunity of learning Chinese, and we plan and facilitate a diverse and variety of the Chinese traditions and events,” she explains. 

That includes the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. Xia is from Central China. She says that different areas have different ways of celebrating the New Year, but one value is constant. 

 "It's the most important time for family members to reunite, and spend great family time together, have a big feast together,” she says. 

For example, Xia says dumplings are a common traditional food on the menu. She says their round, coin purse shape is a sign of good fortune, and eating them brings fortune to you. 

She says the color red on the clothes, decorations, and the envelopes of money folks get is significant to the holiday. Xia says it means luck and prosperous fire. 

“We wish that it brings luck to everyone,” Xia says. 

Chenny Gan, Associate Professor of Music and Director of the Graduate Music program remembers her childhood in China celebrating the new year well. 

"You get firecrackers, you get fireworks, you get the red envelopes, your whole family gives you money --gifts. It's the most wonderful time of the year for Chinese children,” Gan explains.

Gan says the Lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon. She says the holiday begins on the new moon, and lasts for 15 days as the moon becomes full. Gan says it represents the transition of winter turning into Spring– a sign of the new year. 

“The new year is very festive, and it’s a time to be with people you love.”

Gan immigrated to America from South China when she was eight. She says while she wasn’t able to celebrate the holiday with her whole family anymore, she says you can still come together with loved ones. 

"We have a small but very strong Asian community in Macon, Georgia. We often don't get to see each other. So, it's a great way to bring people together,” she says. 

Gan says she’s glad Wesleyan College is able to bring a diverse range of cultures to the campus. She says it has a special connection to Chinese culture already. 

“Wesleyan College educated the first women from China over 100 years ago. The three Soong sisters. To carry on that legacy and tradition, and to have the Confucius Institute here is very significant,” Gan explains. 

That’s exactly why Tina Wu– just one out of 10 international students from China at Wesleyan– chose to attend the university. 

She says the new year is her favorite holiday. 

"We'll make dumplings, and then we will do paper crafts or like calligraphy, and we have traditional Chinese music play,” Wu explains. 

Wu says she hasn't been home to South East China in four years. She says the events make her feel closer to home.

“I feel really proud when I'm doing that because more people will know about my country and culture. I feel like I'm validated,” Wu says. 

If you want to celebrate the new year in a new way, Wesleyan College will be holding events on February 1st and the 15th. 

The 1st will be their official celebration of the New Year with a musical concert featuring a fusion of traditional Chinese music and western music styles. 

February 15th is the lantern festival– marking the end of the holiday. There will be Chinese crafts, snacks, and music. 

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