Lunar New Year

London A39

MPW hosts an annual Lunar New Year celebration and this year’s was one of the best yet. Around 18% of MPW’s students come from China and Vietnam where the New Year is celebrated in line with the lunar calendar, rather than on the 1st January.

To mark the Year of the Monkey, students had organised an evening of traditional celebrations. The catering was excellent and the delicious smell of Chinese and Vietnamese food enticed students and staff into the libraries: it wasn’t long before a queue had formed as everyone was keen to try the different dim sum options, noodles and desserts. To accompany the meal, a set for green tea had been laid and as guests ate, they enjoyed some traditional songs from a professional erhu musician including a joyful tune to represent happiness, alongside which some girls had set up a stall translating Western names into beautiful Chinese calligraphy.

Then the performances began. Dance is a big part of Chinese culture and one student wearing customary robes with long flowing sleeves performed a traditional dance for the audience. This was followed by a rousing group chorus of the Chinese New Year song. Finally, the highlight (for me) of the festivities was a performance of a Chinese wedding ceremony. Two actors played the parts of the parents, two more were the bride and groom, another assisted the ceremonial proceedings, and a sixth narrated the wedding, explaining to the European students and staff the symbolism of the event. This included a number of gestures of respect towards each other and their parents, as well as rituals such as drinking tea together, and the bride and groom placing a lock of each other’s hair inside a lucky red envelope to represent their unity. It was a beautiful ceremony which the audience really enjoyed and a perfect end to the performances of the evening.