Chinese students, friends to celebrate New Year this week

Thanks to my J200 journalism students – especially to Hui, Ziqian, Chunxi, Lingyu, Qianwen and Shiqi – for pointing out that Chinese New Year falls this week.

The Year of the Sheep begins Thursday, and many of the more than 3,000 Chinese students who attend IU Bloomington will be celebrating. On Friday evening, the Chinese Student and Scholar Association will present a gala event at the IU Auditorium.

Chinese_New_Year_posterThe public is invited, and admission is free. The schedule includes food from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by entertainment from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

New Year is a major celebration in China, comparable to Thanksgiving or Christmas in the U.S. It’s a time when Chinese people travel long distances to spend the season with family members. According to a “by the numbers” feature in London’s Guardian newspaper:

  • The average Chinese worker will get seven days off work during the 40-day lunar New Year period, allowing a rare opportunity to spend time with family.
  • Some 3.6 billion passenger trips will be taken during the holiday period, turning “roads, airports and train stations into congestion hotspots.”
  • Chinese consumers spent $100 billion on shopping and eating out during the 2014 New Year period, about twice what Americans spent on Thanksgiving weekend.
  • On WeChat, China’s most popular messaging service, 10 million messages will be sent every minute between 10 p.m. and midnight New Year’s Eve.

Regarding the IU Auditorium gala, a message from the Chinese Student and Scholar Association says, “Given that traveling home during the semester is difficult for international students, the Chinese students have planned this great event to celebrate with the IU campus community instead.”

Sure, there’s no place like home for the holidays. But celebrating with friends is the next best thing.

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