Members of the Brookdale Asia Society officially ushered in the Year of the Dog on Feb. 27 during a college-wide Chinese New Year celebration held in the Student Life Center in Lincroft.
The event, open to all students, employees and local community members, featured a wide variety of traditional food, interactive crafts, giveaways and information booths detailing the history – and significance – of the Chinese Zodiac. Asia Society members also roamed the Student Life Center in a traditional Lion Dance costume and invited visitors to play a ceremonial drum in the Martin Luther King Jr. Lounge.
“Our goal is to introduce new people to the importance and the history of the Chinese New Year and help them learn about these long-standing cultural traditions that have been passed down through the generations,” said Christina Stiver, Asia Society president and a second-year biology major.
The lion dance, for example, was used to scare off “a ferocious beast” called Nian which plagued ancient villages and crops, Stiver said. Villagers also used paper lanterns and red fans to keep Nian at bay.
“They discovered that by wearing the color red and by burning fires, the beast would go away and leave them alone,” Stiver said.
As part of the celebration, visitors were able to craft their own paper lanterns to take home and participate in a number of traditional games and activities.
At one table, students and employees were invited to try removing marbles from a wooden bowl using only chopsticks. At another, visitors could pick up a traditional “red envelope” believed to bring good luck to all those who receive it.
“They are typically given to family and contain little prizes inside,” Stiver said. “Usually it’s money, but today we have little chocolate coins.”
Visitors were also offered information on the Year of the Dog, which officially began on Feb. 16. Individuals born in the Year of the Dog are believed to share characteristics such as loyalty, faith and honesty, said Asia Society faculty advisor Linda Wang. The Chinese New Year celebration traditionally lasts for 15 days. Learn more about the Chinese Zodiac, and the Year of the Dog, here.
“I am very proud of our club members for putting together this wonderful, and successful, celebration,” said Wang, a mathematics professor. “They simply did an incredible job.”
Check out more photos from the Chinese New Year celebration here.