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Reining in the Year of the Horse

By Scott Calzolaio

Reverberating beats pulsated from the large “seven-star” drum and mini-gong as the Boston Chinese Freemasons brought the traditional Lion Dance to FSU for the Lunar New Year on Wednesday, marking the beginning of the year of the Horse. The group performed in the crowded McCarthy Forum for the second annual FSU Chinese New Year celebration. The festivities, sponsored by Multicultural Affairs and the Committee for Diversity, included food, games, activities and a live performance.

The performance featured a brief martial arts demonstration in which three of the Chinese Freemasons showed the audience a variety of martial arts moves, and even performed front-flips on stage. Immediately following this demonstration, the Freemasons started the traditional Lion Dance. The two intricate yellow and red lion costumes entered from two different doors, and were led by a masked Freemason dressed in traditional garb.

The lions danced on stage and around the room, allowing members of the crowd to pet the fur for good luck. At the end of their performance, the lions threw oranges into the crowd, and also kicked two heads of lettuce, causing it to rain vegetation over the audience. The Chinese word for both lettuce and luck is “choy,” so this tradition is believed to spread luck and prosperity for the New Year.

“[The performance] was awesome,” said sophomore Nora Chan. “I liked when they threw the oranges and lettuce – it’s good luck!”

“New Year’s, in Western tradition, is kind of just an excuse for a party,” said English Professor Lisa Eck. “This is really about bringing in the Spring. It was both a ritual and a lesson.”

After the performance, there were a multitude of different activities to try, and information tables to visit. Activities such as origami, where there were instructions to create a swan, a shuriken or a butterfly, were spread throughout the forum. There was a table for traditional games such as Chinese checkers and Mahjong (a game similar to Gin Rummy). Other activities included an in depth Zodiacal analysis and a station where guests could get their name done in professional Chinese calligraphy.

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, the event coordinators, junior sociology major Yue Chen and senior psychology major Brittany Vo, joined together with the director of the FSU Multicultural Center Kathy Martinez and assistant professor of sociology Daisy Ball, and served as panelists for a Diversity Dialogue. This Diversity Dialogue was entitled “I’m Asian American.” The information session included a slideshow focusing on Asian Americans in the country and on campus. The panelists provided statistics, and touched on subjects such as the stereotype of Asians being the “model minority” to subjects like the “Bamboo Ceiling,” which is the Asian American equivalent of the glass ceiling.

Students also discussed the possibility of an on-campus club celebrating Asian cultures.

Of the Lunar New Year event, junior Nicole Burdick said, “I think it’s an awesome way to be informed and educated about other people’s cultures and it gave me more of a global perspective.”

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