Colorado College Welcomes the ‘Year of the Rat’ and the Changes It Will Bring

By Riley Prillwitz 

Each year, Colorado College holds its own Spring Festival Celebration for the Chinese New Year, allowing Chinese students and others to celebrate the holiday while at school.  

Illustration by Cate Johnson

This year, the Chinese Lunar New Year was on Jan. 25. The Rat, this year’s zodiac, is the first in the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. 

An international CC student from China, who wishes to remain anonymous, discussed the Chinese zodiac and the meaning behind this year. 

“Rat is the translation from Yin to Yang, because it has four toes on its front [paws] but five toes on their back […] So rat is half Yin, half Yang.”  

Rosa Ma ’21 has special traditions with her family in China for the new year and remembers them fondly. 

“On the first day of Lunar New Year, we would set off Chinese fireworks (the red ones) to celebrate the lunar new year. Traditionally, it means we say goodbye to the old and welcome the new.” 

Photos Courtesy of Colorado College Chinese Department

“On Xiao Nian Ye, aka Small Lunar Night, which is two nights before the first day of Lunar New Year, we would prepare and have dinner with my dad’s family,” said Ma. “On Da Nian Ye, aka Big Lunar Night, one night before the first day of Lunar New Year, we would have dinner with my mom’s family.”

The anonymous student also reminisced about celebrations with their family. 

“Me and my parents [would] travel back to our hometown before the festival and spend those days with my relatives in my grandma’s house,” the student said. “For Chinese people, it’s not about what you do during Spring Festival, but staying together with the family, that’s the most important thing.” 

The 2020 Spring Festival Celebration at took place on Friday, Jan. 31. Attendees were encouraged to wear red to symbolize luck and happiness. As a part of the celebration, dinner was served and several people performed in Armstrong Theatre.

 “My favorite program [was] Annalise’s Chinese Zither song ‘Lofty Mountains and Flowing Water’,” the anonymous student said.  “I feel like people [enjoyed] the food [the] most as always.” 

Everyone who attended received red envelopes, as is traditional in the Lunar New Year celebration. 

Ma spoke about the red envelopes, explaining how her family gives them out to relatives and friends in the first few days of the Lunar New Year. 

“If [a] family has kids, my parents would give them red pockets.” 

Though the anonymous student had fun at the Spring Festival, they did express some concerns about it as well. They said, “the sound effect in the theater is very poor, like hurting my ears.”    

The Lunar New Year has come, and the Year of the Rat is only beginning. While many may not be aware of the transition, others who celebrate the New Year see this as a fresh start.

“Rat is going to bring a huge change for the world,” the CC student said. “Rat has a property of water element. For my life it means study, family, morality […] anything that nurtures me.” 

This year is a fresh start to the Chinese Zodiac calendar. For anyone looking to reset their routines and start new habits, this may be the perfect opportunity to do so.  

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