UB’s Confucius Institute to host Chinese New Year celebration


Next Monday, the Chinese New Year will usher in the Year of the Monkey.

Based on the Chinese lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is a celebration that occurs annually in the Chinese culture. Each year an animal based on a Chinese zodiac symbol is chosen to represent the annual festivities, and the animal representing 2016 is the monkey.

UB’s Confucius Institute is working for the fifth straight year to produce an event that displays the values and customs associated with the Chinese New Year celebration. This year’s celebration will take place on Sunday, Feb. 7 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at UB’s Center for the Arts Mainstage Theater and is open to the public.

The Confucius Institute supports China-related research, artistry and language at UB and in the UB community.

“The whole show celebrates Chinese heritage and American students who like to learn Chinese and know Chinese culture,” said Maggie Lu, associate director of the Confucius Institute.

The performers at the celebration will be American students from UB and the surrounding Buffalo elementary and high school districts who have taken Chinese classes for one or two years, according to Lu. They will be displaying what they have learned to the audience by speaking entirely in Chinese.

This year, the Chinese New Year begins on Monday, Feb. 8 and continues as a week-long public holiday. During this time, families get together and celebrate with reunion dinners, celebrations, fireworks and well wishes.

Celebrations of the Chinese New Year are esteemed in Chinese culture and the Confucius Institute has high hopes of displaying all the distinct characteristics of it.

“Every year, the program has the traditional Chinese dance and songs … [There will be a] lion dance during intermission and before the show,” Lu said.

The lion dance is a traditional Chinese dance performed for good luck at special events according to China Highlights, a Chinese travel agency.

The event will showcase special activities and gestures related to the animal, including a performance of monkey-style dances by the Golden Summit Martial Arts program, to portray the tradition of the lion dance.

While performances, dances and songs will be the main focus of the celebration, other smaller activities including cultural display tables, tea ceremonies and children’s activities linked with Chinese culture will be present, according to Lu.

The Confucius Institute collaborates throughout the year with the Chinese Club of Western New York and the Chinese Student Association at UB to provide not only the Chinese New Year celebration but also Chinese education, study abroad programs and Chinese culture awareness at UB and the greater Buffalo area, according to Bruce Acker, another associate director of the Confucius Institute.

Both Acker and Lu said the Confucius Institute plays a vital role in Chinese education on campus and in Buffalo through promoting and supporting the Chinese language, having cultural organizations at UB and throughout Western New York and promoting teaching and research about China.

“This year we have almost 4,000 students in the Western New York area learning Chinese by our Confucius Institute teachers,” Lu said.

She said the Confucius Institute provides UB – as well as local elementary and high schools Chinese teachers – resources and educational tools, if needed.

Teachers are brought in from China to teach classes and give distinguished lectures related to Chinese culture and history, Acker said.

The Confucius Institute provides resources to UB students who may have an interest in learning more about the culture. To learn more about Chinese culture, students can visit Lockwood Library’s allocated area known as the “Confucius reading area,” where books have been donated by the Confucius Institute.

Kori Hughes is a news staff writer. The news desk can be reached at news@ubspectrum.com.