The Lantern and Chinese New Year Festival in Johns – 2020

By Clodomiro Cafolla, Postgraduate and International Resident Tutor and Clarissa Wemple, Third Year Psychology Undergraduate

On Sunday 2nd February 2020, we celebrated the Chinese Lantern Festival. The event was hosted in the Postgraduate Centre and open to any member of College.

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The decorations read: the gentle breeze happily welcomes a new spring!

The Lantern Festival is the last celebration for the New Year taking place fifteen days after the Lunar New Year. The Festival takes its name from the tradition according to which people would go out with a red lantern as a symbol of prosperity for the New Year. Legend says that the Festival started after the god of heaven failed in his attempt to destroy the capital on the fifteenth lunar day. People were wise enough to deceive the god using red lanterns so that the city looked as if it were burning down. The god then returned back to heaven as he thought that the capital was already going to get destroyed!

The Lantern Festival at John’s brought together a number of Johnians from many rooms: JCR, MCR and even SCR. Since the event was in collaboration with the International Representatives of the SJCR, a wide number of activities enlightened the event. These included preparing and tasting of (a lot of) delicious dumplings — undoubtedly the most successful part of our Festival with our lovely Head Chef Ming (a huge thank you!) teaching us the best technique to wrap the dumplings.

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Ming, the head chef (second from the left) and chef assistant Liven (first from the left) teaching us the best technique to prepare the most delicious dumplings.
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Trying to put into practice what Ming taught us….
The Head Chef giving precise instructions to the chef assistants Allen, Lu and Carina.

We also enjoyed writing our names in Chinese, and the names of our home countries using traditional brushes. Calligraphy is definitely more challenging than enjoying dumplings – trust me!

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Yifeng, the Calligraphy Master, showing how to write ideograms…
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….and explaining the meaning of the different ideograms.

Other activities also included a game of picking up rice grains with chopsticks – definitely a hard one if your chopstick skills aren’t the best…

Little snippet of Joe, our SJCR President, testing out his chopstick skills!

The Festival above all celebrated John’s spirit of warm friendliness and hospitality, allowing international and local Johnians to share and appreciate different values and backgrounds.

When speaking to Austin Ng, one of the international representatives of the SJCR, he said that he felt that it is important to organise cultural events in college not only because it helps the international community to integrate within everyone else in college, but also provides a conducive environment for everybody to learn about different cultures.

Students enjoying the best part of preparing dumplings: eating them all!

He also adds that, “With Chinese New Year being a significant event in the Chinese Calendar and the relatively large Chinese Community in St. Johns College, we felt it was a perfect opportunity to hold such an event. We really enjoyed working with the MCR and conducting games in which we tried to teach people how to use chopsticks, and also introduced different childhood snacks that are common in Chinese households.”.

It was truly a wonderful evening of fellowship and community, and we would like to thank everyone that came for making the event such a success!

Have you ever celebrated the Lantern Festival/Chinese New Year? What’s your favourite part about it? Tell us in the comments below – we’d love to hear it!

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